Sick Building Syndrome is a well recognised issue within buildings, especially in work environments where we tend to: use lots of electronic devices; have regular cleaning using powerful detergents; and be surrounded by off-gassing materials like plastics, MDF and foams. However these materials are also common in the home.
All the different chemicals that are given off by materials like formaldehyde, benzene and phthalates enter the atmosphere and in confined places like buildings their concentrations are much higher than in outside environment. So we are breathing in these chemicals and they can have a really detrimental effect on our health. They have been linked to a wide range of complaints from leukaemia to autism, so it is not something to brush under the carpet. It is especially important to protect children from these chemicals as they absorb them much more readily and in higher concentrations than adults.
So where do Spider plants come into all of this?
Well Spider plants are are especially good at absorbing some of these off-gassed chemicals, notably formaldehyde. So effectively they filter the air for us and lock up these potentially dangerous substances into their leaves and roots.
It is not just Spider plants though, biological studies have found that ferns are exceptionally effective in extracting arsenic from the ecosystem. It has been determined that, in areas which have been exposed to arsenic through industrial pollution, the arsenic fixing abilities of ferns could be as effective as the more conventional hazardous materials protocols.
A NASA research study arrived at the conclusion that philodendrons were also exceptional purifiers for formaldehyde and that Gerbera daisies also have the capability to extract benzene from the ecosystem.
So not only do you green up your home and make it look nice, you are also providing a natural buffer between you and the chemical soup that surrounds us at home. However we would recommend that you also reduce the amount of off-gassing materials at home (plastics, glued wood like MDF, synthetic foams in mattresses, sofas etc) and also look to use natural cleaners in minimal amounts.
So Spiderman has nothing on Spider plants when it comes to making your home and life that little bit safer and cleaner.