Anti-pollution plants, Hedera helix
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Anti-pollution plants, Hedera helix

What

The ivy is a beautiful houseplant that is not just appreciated for its ornamental role but also for its ability to clean the air from benzene and trichlorethylene.

How

In the 1970s, NASA commissioned Dr. B Wolverton a study about the plants that could improve the microclimate in space stations by removing, or at least reducing, the toxic and polluting substances in the air. And Wolverton succeeded in compiling a list of 50 particularly effective plants against pollutants, the research is available online with the title Interior Landscape Plants for indoor air pollution abatement. But the research has also other, and very useful for us, applications because these anti-pollution plants help to keep clean the air of offices and homes from substances that can be released from everyday objects such as printers, furniture, products for the cleaning. The ivy, scientific name hedera helix, belongs to the list of the 50 plants identified by Wolverton. The ivy belongs to the Araliaceae family, grows spontaneously on the walls or on the gardens but can also be cultivated in pots and, thanks to the intense green of its leaves, has a beautiful ornamental role. The ivy is also effective in removing benzene, according to the research in fact 89.9% of benzene in a room is successfully eliminated by this seedling. This is a very important effect because benzene, a substance recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a carcinogen, can easily be detected in the rooms where we live or work, since it is released from cigarette smoke and the burning of fireplaces, stoves, incense and candles or from products used for cleaning, adhesives, printers, paints, coatings and new furniture. Finally, the ivy is able to eliminate also a part of trichlorethylene (10.9%), this substance, very toxic, is found in stain removers, paints, lacquers and inks. Moreover, the ivy is also easy to grow, has no special needs and is very resistant. It is resistant to cold temperatures until some degrees below zero but it doesn’t love hot days, for this reason in summer it is enough to keep it at home, where it is cooler. The plant requires watering only when the soil is dry on the surface. Finally, if you have pets in the house, place the plant so that they cannot reach it because the leaves, if swallowed, may be toxic and cause problems such as nausea, diarrhea, tremors and difficult breathing.
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