Practical Tips Dept. (Green desk)
"As few as 15 houseplants in an average-size home can offer a significant reduction in the number of indoor contaminants.This is according to -- Gack!! -- Martha Stewart! Maybe she learned this in "that place where I was." (I'll admit I never thought I'd find occasion to quote this insufferably hyperactive housekeeper, and convicted abuser of market insider information. But she shore do know her houseplants, I guess.)
"Look for plants such as philodendrons, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), and golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) -- all have long been appreciated as houseplants for their decorative qualities and are highly effective in removing molecules of formaldehyde. This contaminant is present in many household items, including particleboard, carpet backings, some grocery bags, facial tissues, paper towels, and permanent-press clothing.
"Flowering plants such as gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums are excellent choices for removing benzene -- frequently present in gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber -- from the atmosphere.
From "Ask Martha" in the Boston Globe, December 28, 2006
I might add that Pothos, mentioned here, are very hardy, tolerant plants that will not faint dead away if you forget to water them for a few days, or even a week. Just the thing for those of us whose thumbs are a pale green at best.
Unmentioned in this article is the fact that living with plants has an unmistakeably soothing effect on one's nerves, too.
The article also reminds us that, "Plants produce oxygen." That's good: scientists are beginning to suspect that oxygen might have some role in respiration, perhaps even some beneficial effects on the brain.