7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Having Plants at Home
By Karen Reed
Friends and coworkers have plants in their home or around their office. You may have considered it yourself, but then remembered that they require care and attention. Do you really have that time? Do you really want greenery in your home, when it looks so beautiful outside?
Well, there are a number of health benefits of having plants around your home. These benefits are far worth the work in setting up a routine in watering and feeding the plants. Plus, you can get different types of plants that require less care than others (such as cacti).
While you may have heard of the benefits, you may not be sure of the realities of them. Can your plants really make you happier? Will they really improve your air quality? Researchers have looked into the claims and found the truth. Here are the science-backed, proven benefits of having plants in your home.
1. They Help to Improve the Mental Health
Plants naturally help to heal and not by crushing them and using their juices! Just having them in the home can help to improve your mental health. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that people who live around nature feel much happier than those that don't. This isn't just about those who live in the countryside either. Just looking at the greenery in the home will help.
There are a few theories on how this is the case. One of those is that the plants make you think of the outdoors. You think about the countryside and the open spaces. The plants help you feel less boxed in, especially if you live in an inner city.
Plants also have a sense of peace around them. They don't care about your busy day. They sit there and grow. Plants are patient and docile, while helps to create that atmosphere in the home. Rather than constantly feel like you're rushing around everyone else, you can get the calming nature of the plants.
And then there is the air quality benefit. Plants will release oxygen into the air and take up the carbon dioxide. When you have them in the home, your home's air is naturally more beneficial for you. Of course, more oxygen means your body works more effectively. Your brain feels less fatigued and cloudy, meaning all the connections are improved. You release the right types of hormones, helping to support your mental health.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, you want to get some plants in the home. Look for ones that work to your advantage. If you don't feel you have enough time to water daily, look out for cacti and other similar plants that don't need as much water. If you love the idea of looking for something, you can opt for flowers and plants that take a little more work.
Scents also help with the mental health. When you get a good smell, you instantly feel more relaxed and happier. Your sense of smell is a powerful tool for memories, which helps to bring up the good rather than the bad, instantly boosting the positive chemicals being released from the brain.
2. Your Immune System Gets a Boost
It's not just your mental health that benefits. Your physical health does too. Plants help to give the immune system a much-needed boost, especially during flu season.
Part of this is linked to the mental benefits. When you get more sleep and feel more relaxed, your immune system is able to work more. You'll find it much easier to fight off the bugs and viruses doing their rounds. But that's not the only way you gain.
Plants have phytoncides and other airborne chemicals. These chemicals help to reduce the amount of stress you feel throughout the day. You don't even need to see them gain this benefit! When you feel less stressed, your immune system gets a natural boost. Most of the time you won't physically feel the positive effects, except when you realize that you haven't had a cold that your friends have had!
And there's also the nutritional benefits. While you're not eating or using the plants, they can still help to spread the positive chemicals that support your immune system. You get that boost in your health in a third way, further helping you fight off the cold, flu and other illnesses.
The healing benefits are why you'll often find plants outside hospitals. You'll also find that hospital staff is more than happy for patients to have the plants by patients' bedsides. They've shown positive results in helping patients recover from illnesses faster.
Studies in Norway have shown that illnesses drop by 60% through the use of plants in the home. Even though it's not all illnesses, it's certainly worthwhile investing in.
3. Your Productivity Is Improved
Have you ever felt like you just can't work? It's all about the way your home is decorated. Those that have more pictures, decorations and plants have proven to be more productive workspaces. You get reminders of why you're working and the goals you have in life.
Plus, there are the mental health benefits. Spaces without any form of personalization can be demotivating and dull. You end up with a space that you're not interested in and that makes the mental health suffer. You feel more stressed and anxious, finding it hard to get out of work mode at the end of the day. There isn't this feeling of fulfillment afterward.
Plants help to get rid of that feeling. You add color to your workspace or your home, giving your mind the mental boost it needs to improve your productivity. When you see a plant, you'll gain new inspiration and creativity. Suddenly that work you've been struggling with for the last three hours is far easier to complete and you think outside the box to impress your boss.
You really don't need that many plants to gain this benefit. Just a couple will help to create the positive workspace.
4. Your Relationships Are Improved
Wouldn't you love to find a way to improve the relationships in your life? Plants are certainly the way to do that. Pets also offer the benefit of improved relationships, but plants require less responsibility and you can work them into a busier lifestyle without guilt.
When you get plants, you get a sense of compassion. There's another living thing in your home to care for. You end up feeling empathy for the plants, which can then lead to a sense of compassion and empathy for other people in your life.
There are studies that show talking to plants is a good way to help them grow. They thrive on the carbon dioxide that you breathe out, while you thrive on their oxygen. That means talking does more than build a connection, but builds a life.
Plants are especially beneficial for those with few social circles, especially those who are housebound. They help to add something living, so a person doesn't feel completely lonely. When they do have visitors, they can connect on a better level.
5. They Improve Your Learning Abilities
Remember that plants help to boost the productivity levels? Well, they also help to boost your learning capabilities. This is certainly linked to the productivity. Plants in the home help to boost focus and mental clarity, which makes it much easier to focus on tasks at hand.
Both adults and children will gain benefits by having plants in the home. Adults will have more focus on their work and college tasks, while children find it easier to learn the basics.
Children who suffer from mental disabilities or conditions can also gain benefits with the plants. The phytonutrients help to settle the mind, creating a safer space and environment for them to learn. They are more open to the tasks at hand.
Plants help to keep the feeling of insecurities and overwhelm at bay. Because of their calming nature, a person can look and feel naturally calmer themselves. This then leads to improving the focus and ability to master a subject.
There's also the factor of smell. The sense of smell is linked to bringing forward memories. When you study around a particular smell, you can use that scent in tests and exams to remember the things you studied. Most schools will allow oils or perfumes, so you can bottle up the plant smell and use it to your advantage.
Studies have shown that attentiveness is increased by 70% because of plants in the room. The more attentive someone is, the better they are likely to remember subjects.
6. The Improve Your Air Quality
Air quality can be a major problem. Did you know that the air inside your home is worse than the air in the middle of a city? This is because pollutants get in, but they find it extremely hard to get out. The bacteria and viruses stick around the home, leading to a higher chance of you getting ill in the winter. While you can open the window, you can also use plants to improve the air quality.
This all comes back to the airborne chemicals that the plants release. They tackle the pollutants in the air, instantly rectifying the balance. You're left with air that is safer and healthier for you to breathe.
Of course, we've already looked at the benefits of improving your air quality. It helps to boost your immune system and your mental health. The improved air quality also helps to boost your chest health. When you breathe in pollutants, you irritate the lungs with them. By breathing fresher air, you instantly keep the airways clear and irritant free, so you can breathe much better.
Plants are excellent to have if you have pets. While they won't get rid of the pet hair malting on your floor, they will help to take in the pollutants your pets bring in from the outside! The plants will also help to improve the life of your pet.
Research has shown that plants will remove around 87% of the pollutants in the air, some of them being the most harmful chemicals. They'll help to tackle the likes of formaldehyde and benzene. These have both been known to cause cancer, so getting rid of them from the home is essential.
The great news is you don't need to worry about killing the plants. The plants will pull the chemicals into the soil, which will then be turned into food for the plants. So, while your health is improved, your plants thrive with food!
7. They Add More Humidity to the Home
Plants release almost all of the water they take in. This is good news for you, as the water will help to improve your air quality and your health. Dry air can lead to irritation in the lungs and lead to problems such as dry mouth and overheat. Your body needs the moisture as much as possible.
Plants offer the perfect way to add humidity back into the air. You don't need to buy a humidifier and see your electricity bills increase. The plant does it all for you for absolutely nothing.
If you struggle to sleep because of dry air on a night, add plants to your bedroom. They will constantly release the water throughout the night, so your bedroom remains at the best level. You can also use plants in the dining room and living room to make the living spaces much more comfortable.
At the same time, plants will also soak in some of the moisture to use later. You can help manage the humidity levels in the bathroom or kitchen much better to improve your breathing health.
Add Plants to Your Home
It's time to take advantage of the health benefits of plants. All seven above have been proven by researchers to have a positive effect on your health. Whether you want a boost to your mental or your physical health, plants will definitely do it.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Positive Health Wellness.
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Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation to ban some of the most toxic pesticides currently in use in the U.S. D-Keine / E+ / Getty Images
By Jake Johnson
Democrats in the House and Senate on Tuesday introduced sweeping legislation that would ban some of the most toxic pesticides currently in use in the U.S. and institute stronger protections for farmworkers and communities that have been exposed to damaging chemicals by the agriculture industry.
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By Alex Thornton
The Australian government has announced a A$190 million (US$130 million) investment in the nation's first Recycling Modernization Fund, with the aim of transforming the country's waste and recycling industry. The hope is that as many as 10,000 jobs can be created in what is being called a "once in a generation" opportunity to remodel the way Australia deals with its waste.
Waste Mountain<p>The need for a dramatic increase in Australia's recycling capacity pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-27/where-does-all-australias-waste-go/11755424" target="_blank">Australians create approximately 67 million tons of waste a year</a>, and like in many wealthy countries, much of that was sent overseas. That all changed when China announced it was <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/china-has-banned-foreign-waste-so-whats-the-future-of-world-recycling" target="_blank">banning the import of a huge range of foreign waste</a> and recyclables. Soon <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/malaysia-flooded-with-plastic-waste-to-send-back-some-scrap-to-source" target="_blank">other countries followed suit</a>, and Australia was forced to look for alternative solutions.</p>
Biggest exporters of plastic. Statista
Waste Export Ban<p>Australia has adopted a strategy of taking responsibility for its own waste. Starting in January 2021, it is phasing in <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/waste-export-ban" target="_blank">bans on the export of different forms of waste</a>. By mid 2024, Australia's home-grown recycling industry will have to deal with an extra 650,000 tons of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires.</p><p>"As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy," federal environment minister Sussan Ley said in a <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">statement to Reuters</a>.</p>
Timeline for Australia's waste export ban. Australian Government
Trash Into Treasure<p>The benefits to the environment of boosting recycling rates are well known – less landfill, less plastic in our ocean, reduced need for virgin materials, and lower carbon emissions. The Recycling Modernization Fund initiative aims to divert more than 10 million tons of waste from landfill, part of an <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan" target="_blank">overall strategy to reduce the total waste generated per person by 10%</a>, and push <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/7381c1de-31d0-429b-912c-91a6dbc83af7/files/national-waste-report-2018.pdf" target="_blank">Australia's total resource recovery rate from 58% in 2017</a> to 80% by 2030.</p><p>But like many countries, Australia is focusing on the economic benefits of better waste management as well.</p><p>"This will mean Australia converts more waste into higher valued resources ready for reuse locally by manufacturers and brands in their packaging and products," Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">told Reuters</a>.</p>
Green Jobs<p>The great potential of the circular economy to create green jobs is being recognized across the world.</p><p>In the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Program has launched a <a href="https://wrap.org.uk/buildbackbetter" target="_blank">six-point plan which it claims could add $90 billion to the economy, and create 500,000 new jobs</a>. Investment in the circular economy forms a significant part of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan that Democratic candidate Joe Biden</a> is taking into November's US presidential election. And the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_940" target="_blank">European Union has put its Green New Deal at the heart of its plans for recovery</a> from the economic shock of COVID-19.</p><p>The World Economic Forum's <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_Future_Of_Nature_And_Business_2020.pdf" target="_blank">Future of Nature and Business</a> report identifies 15 systemic transitions with annual business opportunities worth $10 billion a year that could create 395 million jobs by 2030.</p><p>As is the case with Australia's Recycling Modernization Fund, a combination of private enterprise and government investment can offer ways to get people back to work by building a more environmentally sustainable economy.</p>
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The Great American Outdoors Act is now the law of the land.
<div id="e0008" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ffc07febbf5d2d585ad06d3f43e2be56"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290667833999929344" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Breaking News: The President has just signed the bipartisan #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct. It will help: 🏗️ Restore… https://t.co/RPefKPMn7S</div> — Fix Our Parks (@Fix Our Parks)<a href="https://twitter.com/FixOurParksUS/statuses/1290667833999929344">1596554165.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Andrew J. Whelton and Caitlin R. Proctor
In recent years wildfires have entered urban areas, causing breathtaking destruction.
Survivors left everything to flee the Camp Fire's path. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Wildfires and Water<p>Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were common. The Camp Fire inferno spread at a speed of one football field per second, chasing everyone – including water system operators – out of town.</p><p>After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials</a>.</p>
Pipes, water meters and meter covers after wildfires destroyed them. Caitlin Proctor, Amisha Shah, David Yu, and Andrew Whelton/Purdue University
Dangerous Contamination Levels<p>Benzene was found at concentrations of 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water after the Tubbs Fire and at more than 2,217 ppb after the Camp Fire. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, children exposed to benzene for a single day can suffer <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Benzene-Levels-in-Water.pdf" target="_blank">harm at levels as low as 26 ppb</a>.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting children's short-term acute exposure to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-03/documents/dwtable2018.pdf" target="_blank">200 ppb</a>, and long-term exposure to less than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations" target="_blank">5 ppb</a>. The EPA regulatory level for what constitutes a hazardous waste is <a href="https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/tclp.pdf" target="_blank">500 ppb</a>.</p><p>In early 2019, California conducted contaminated water testing on humans by taking contaminated water from the Paradise Irrigation District and asking persons to smell it. The state found that even when people smelled contaminated water that had less than 200 ppb benzene, <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/resources/Dissipatiion-of-Burn-Related-VOC-From-Water.pdf" target="_blank">at least one person reported nausea and throat irritation</a>. The test also showed that water contained a variety of other benzene-like compounds that first responders had not sampled for.</p><p>The officials who carried out this small-scale test did not appear to realize the significance of what they had done, until we asked whether they had had their action approved in advance by an institutional review board. In response, they asserted that such a review was not needed.</p><p>In our view, this episode is telling for two reasons. First, one subject reported an adverse health effect after being exposed to water that contained benzene at a level below the EPA's recommended one-day limit for children. Second, doing this kind of test without proper oversight suggests that officials greatly underestimated the potential for serious contamination of local water supplies and public harm. After the Camp Fire, together with the EPA, we estimated that some plastic pipes needed <a href="https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/opinions/Final-HDPE-Service-Line-Decontamination-2019-03-18.pdf" target="_blank">more than 280 days</a> of flushing to make them safe again.</p>
Plastic pipes can be damaged by heat and fire contact. Andrew Whelton / Purdue University
Building Codes Could Make Areas Disaster-Ready<p>Our research underscores that community building codes are inadequate to prevent wildfire-caused pollution of drinking water and homes.</p><p>Installing one-way valves, called backflow prevention devices, at each water meter can prevent contamination rushing out of the damaged building from flowing into the larger buried pipe network.</p><p>Adopting codes that required builders to install fire-resistant meter boxes and place them farther from vegetation would help prevent infrastructure from burning so readily in wildfires. Concrete meter boxes and water meters with minimal plastic components would be less likely to ignite. Some plastics may be practically impossible to make safe again, since all types are susceptible to fire and heat.</p><p>Water main shutoff valves and water sampling taps should exist at every water meter box. Sample taps can help responders quickly determine water safety.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9540d7e271306ed417112042a3efc9a4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GnlrzI1wdAI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Smell Test Doesn’t Work<p>Under no circumstance should people be told to <a href="https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/press_room/press_releases/2018/pr122418_voc.pdf" target="_blank">smell the water</a> to determine its safety, as was recommended for months after the Camp Fire. Many chemicals have no odor when they are harmful. Only testing can determine safety.</p><p>Ordering people to boil their water will not make it safe if it contains toxic chemicals that enter the air. Boiling just transmits those substances into the air faster. "Do not use" orders can keep people safe until agencies can test the water. Before such advisories are lifted or modified, regulators should be required to carry out a full chemical screen of the water systems. Yet, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1183" target="_blank">disaster</a> after <a href="https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2017/ew/c5ew00294j" target="_blank">disaster</a>, government agencies have failed to take this step.</p><p>Buildings should be tested to find contamination. <a href="https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q1/study-your-homes-water-quality-could-vary-by-the-room-and-the-season.html" target="_blank">Home drinking water quality can differ from room to room</a>, so reliable testing should sample both cold and hot water at many locations within each building.</p><p>While infrastructure is being repaired, survivors need a safe water supply. Water treatment devices sold for home use, such as refrigerator and faucet water filters, are not approved for extremely contaminated water, although product sales representatives and government officials may <a href="https://undark.org/2019/09/19/camp-fire-california-drinking-water-carcinogens/" target="_blank">mistakenly think</a> the devices can be used for that purpose.</p><p>To avoid this kind of confusion, external technical experts should be called in assist local public health departments, which can quickly become overwhelmed after disasters.</p>
<div id="71cf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e059d199e8368d282a31601e372e4dda"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1204068265980547075" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-re… https://t.co/fP8Z8mUq7R</div> — IntlCodeCouncil (@IntlCodeCouncil)<a href="https://twitter.com/IntlCodeCouncil/statuses/1204068265980547075">1575907219.0</a></blockquote></div>
Preparing for Future Fires<p>The damage that the Tubbs and Camp fires caused to local water systems was preventable. We believe that urban and rural communities, as well as state legislatures, should establish codes and lists of authorized construction materials for high-risk areas. They also should establish rapid methods to assess health, prepare for water testing and decontamination, and set aside emergency water supplies.</p><p>Wildfires are coming to urban areas. Protecting drinking water systems, buried underground or in buildings, is one thing communities can do to prepare for that reality.</p>
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By Zulfikar Abbany
"We don't have a definition of life," says Kevin Peter Hand, one early California morning when we speak via video. "We don't actually know what life is."