Most of us enjoy the fresh “clean” smells of air fresheners, scented candles and cleaning products in our homes. However, few of us are aware of the dangers of the chemicals we keep in our cleaning cupboards and under the sink and what happens when those chemicals are released into the air in our homes.
Research carried out for the BBC2 programme, shown on 13th January 2016, “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” has identified one of the chemicals widely used to create the perfume in these products is called Limonene as it has a distinctive lemony smell. The problem is that when Limone gets into the air it reacts to form a chemical called formaldehyde which is toxic and even cancer causing.
The programme explained that for every two molecules of limonene we put into our homes we form roughly one molecule of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical. From time to time we treat patients whose quality of life has been completely ruined because they have become seriously intolerant to many chemicals, including formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is found in new furnishings, furniture and new homes. Many people are unable to shop in a department store because of the strong chemical smells that affect their health.
The situation worsens during the winter when we make our homes air-tight by closing the doors and windows and rarely airing our homes.
However, research showed houseplants can absorb chemicals through the pores in their leaves and break the chemicals down. Compared with the start of experiment levels fell once plants were introduced, they absorb the formaldehyde.
The best plants for their effectiveness in absorbing formaldehyde are :
▪ Osmunda japonica (Japanese royal fern)
▪ Selaginella tamariscina
▪ Davallia mariesii (squirrel’s foot fern)
▪ Polypodium formosanum (grub fern)
▪ Psidium guajava (common guava)
▪ Lavandula spp (lavender)
▪ Pteris dispar
▪ Pteris multifida (spider fern)
Pelagonium spp. (geranium)