How to fight domestic pollution. From plants to the use of natural products for the home

How to fight domestic pollution. From plants to the use of natural products for the home

How to fight domestic pollution. From plants to the use of natural products for the home

An American university has identified the harmful chemicals circulating in the home: there are 45. Not a few. We need to reduce the use of some products, but essential help comes from plants. Here are the right ones


Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Benzene and xylene. You don't have to be alarmist, but neither should you play the part of ostriches and put your head in the sand. Our homes are places with a high rate of pollution, potential haunts of poisons. And to defend health we risk wasting a lot of money, and doing damage to our bodies when we focus on products to improve home air quality. Much better natural products, starting from plants, which are really able to cope, without wasting health, to those 45 harmful chemicals that George Washington University has identified within the walls of homes.

Every year almost 7 million people die from pollution : 3.6 million from environmental pollution and 3.3 million for indoor pollution, that is what develops inside homes, offices, and closed places in kind. The data is reported by Pier Mannuccio Mannucci, scientific director of the Ca 'Granda Policlinico Foundation in Milan.


Most of the harmful substances with which we come into contact, when we are outside, are also concentrated in the internal environments, adding to the other polluting molecules coming from the  chemicals  used in the house, from the stoves and from the bacteria that lurk on fabrics and carpets.

But that's not all: in  addition to fine particles, among the other substances that threaten our health on a daily basis, we also find mold, mites, and carbon monoxide.


In general, the research shows that the damage to health still depends on several factors such as exposure to more pollutants, the length of time spent in that specific environment and an individual predisposition to different pathologies: children and older people for example may be more vulnerable.

One of the biggest risks we can face at home is formaldehyde, a colorless gas accused of promoting cancer of the nose and larynx and leukemia. There are several everyday objects containing this substance: glues, coatings, furniture, insulating foams, treatments and finishes for floors and parquet, smoke from fireplaces and stoves, wallpaper,  paints, detergents for cleaning the house,  insecticides, appliances electronic such as computers and copiers or tobacco smoke.

Fortunately,  the concentration present in our homes are very low, even if this does not mean that exposure after exposure, we do not end up developing a certain sensitivity.


Even if at a national and international level it is the institutions that have to implement new strategies to combat pollution, each of us can follow some easy tricks to help pollute less and minimize the dangers of atmospheric and indoor pollution. Even more valuable advice for those suffering from cardiovascular diseases, since fine particles are among the main risk factors for these diseases.

  • Avoid practicing outdoor sports in particularly busy areas and especially during peak traffic hours.
  • Similarly, if you travel on foot or by bicycle, prefer the less polluted routes, preferring early morning or evening.
  • To best protect small children, during walks outside the home, opt for the baby carrier instead of the stroller, in order to keep them away from the most polluted layer of the air, which stops lower.
  • Do not smoke in the house or in the car, especially if there are also children in the car.
  • Change the air in the different rooms often in order to prevent the stagnation of harmful substances, but not during the hours when there is more traffic on the street. The windows should be opened at least two or three times a day for five minutes and continuously when cooking. If there are children, the air must be changed every four to six hours. Obviously always during the day.
  • Renew the walls of the house by painting them with non-toxic and ecological paints.
  • Save on chemicals for cleaning and replace them with those made at home in a natural way. Remember that vinegar and baking soda, natural products for domestic use, are harmless to health and unbeatable for cleaning. On the contrary, industrial hygiene products, which should never be mixed, can also contain harmful volatile substances.
  • To avoid the unwelcome presence of mold and mites, make sure that the humidity level in the house does not go beyond 40-50 percent.
  • Avoid sprays and cleaning products containing formaldehyde.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with efficient filters. That is anti-particulate (HEPA), suitable for removing even the smallest particles of dust.


But that is not all. Do you know that there are some types of plants that can absorb and neutralize pollutants?

You can place them in the living room, bathroom or kitchen. Thanks to a series of small pores on the leaves, they are able to capture the polluting molecules and gases and convey them to the roots. These, in turn, release harmful substances into the earth where there are microorganisms capable of metabolizing and neutralizing them.


They are able to clean the air from ammonia and formaldehyde but also from cigarette smoke and carbon monoxide that forms when you cook or turn on the gas water heater. Here are some of them:


It is one of the most effective plants for purifying the air of formaldehyde.


It is an easy plant to grow at home and does not require much water and grows quickly, able to purify the environment of formaldehyde.


Like Sansevieria, Ficus is also able to clean the air from formaldehyde and is also effective against trichloroethylene and benzene.


Anthurium is a plant capable of fighting ammonia, a substance used in house cleaning but toxic to the lungs.


Dracena is perfect against substances such as xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde present in lacquers or paints.


It is able to remove the trichloroethylene often present in dry-cleaned clothing.

  • IVY

Ivy is great for capturing the formaldehyde found in household cleaning products.


If you have a fireplace at home, to protect yourself from the carbon monoxide that exhales from fireplaces and wood stoves, grow Potos, a plant with large, oval, glossy leaves.


The Cereus peruvianus or Peruvian cactus is a plant with thorns capable of creating a real natural barrier against the magnetic waves caused by smartphones and wi-fi.


Very effective in capturing and capturing formaldehyde and solvents such as xylene, Syngonium is a perfect plant for the visual arts ateliers, schools, and institutes where brushes and highlighters are used extensively.


Capable of absorbing toluene and formaldehyde, it is the perfect plant for a children's room. Remember that Chlorophyte loves bright environments but not direct sunlight.


Even the spatifillo is perfect for absorbing the organic compounds that release glues, paints, and varnishes. Very decorative, it is perfect for offices and living rooms.


In the book Plants that purify the air by Ariane Boixière-Assay and Geneviève Chaudet (Edizioni Il Punto di incontro), 20 plants to be used in the home against pollution are examined, one by one and in the most important details. They are beautiful plants to look at: Ivy, Antonio, Pothos, Fico beniamino, Gerber, Spatifillo, but they are also plants that make the home environment welcoming and warm, and thus help to find, in the family, the path of sustainability. In the book, there are also many practical cards that help to take care of the plants in the right way to keep them always flourishing.  


And finally, here is a whole series of useful measures to protect children from domestic pollution. Let's start with the items to avoid:

  • Plastic bottles made of polycarbonate : they contain and release bisphenol-A, a chemical substance capable of altering the endocrine system. Find the indications relating to polycarbonate with the words PC7 or simply with the number 7. Check that the substance is not also contained in plates,  forks, and glasses.
  • Plastic toys containing phthalates: for those suitable for children under 3 there is an EU law prohibiting their use. However, toys for older children can contain them.
  • The diapers bleached with chlorine and perfumed.
  • Disposable wipes and cleaning products in general containing parabens, EDTA, butyl hydroxyanisole (BHA): these are additives that can interfere with the endocrine system. Remember that reading labels is the only way to avoid substances that are harmful to our health.
  • Perfumes for children: they are absolutely useless.

Let's see now what is better to use:

  • The glass baby bottles.
  • Washable diapers in cotton or alternatively, disposable ones in the organic version.

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