We are what we eat, but also what we breathe. Recent scientific studies have in fact observed that improving air quality in places where we spend a lot of time, such as houses and offices, by removing environmental pollutants, has benefits not only on the respiratory system but also on brain health, reducing the risk, in the long run, to develop neurodegenerative diseases. But why can our houses have polluted air? Certainly because the pollution can come from the external environment, therefore from traffic and industrial fumes, but also from the inside. In fact, many toxic substances are released from the furniture itself, especially if new, carpet, insulation materials, heating sources or glues, but also from unhealthy habits such as smoking. We have several possibilities to improve the air in an indoor environment. Ventilate often if the outside air is not particularly polluted, or just avoiding the hours of heavy traffic, check the proper functioning of boilers and stoves, avoid smoking, but help can also come from plants. Yes, surrounding yourself with certain plant species can help remove different pollutants from environments. This is the result of research commissioned in the 1980s by NASA, the American space agency. NASA's aim was to find out if plants could improve the microclimate in space stations. The research found just over 50 plants capable of removing pollution and we can use this knowledge to improve the air in environments a little closer to us, our homes and our offices. Among the plants studied by NASA there is the bamboo palm, or Chamaedorea seifritzii, today we are talking about this anti-pollution plant.
Chamaedorea seifritzii, or bamboo palm, and its anti-pollution action
Chamaedorea seifritzii, also called bamboo palm, has been able to remove from the environments all the toxic substances for which it has been tested, namely trichlorethylene, benzene and formaldehyde. Not only that, according to the NASA report, the bamboo palm was the most effective at removing formaldehyde (Wolverton, Interior Landscape Plants for indoor air pollution abatement, 1989). Formaldehyde is a substance that is easily found in the environment as it is emitted by industrial fumes but also by the exhaust gas of cars. Not only that, inside homes and offices, formaldehyde can be released from building materials such as plywood, chipboard or sound-absorbing panels, or it can be contained in glues and paints. Formaldehyde can also be contained in fabrics or curtains subjected to manufacturing processes to make them more resistant. Short acute exposure to formaldehyde can cause eye and throat irritation and breathing problems. Instead, constant exposure to this substance can, in the long term, cause cellular degeneration (Kaden et al, WHO guidelines for indoor air quality, 2010).
Growing the bamboo palm at home
The bamboo palm is a beautiful ornamental seedling with long, gnarled stems similar to bamboo, as the name suggests. The leaves then stretch from the branches of the plant, tapered and of a dark and bright green color. The bamboo palm is a plant resistant to insects and parasites and brings an exotic note to the environments where it is placed. You can grow the bamboo palm indoors by keeping it in a pot and making sure the soil is draining to avoid stagnation. The plant loves light but, if possible, avoid direct sunlight. Water to keep the soil moist.