Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to Grow Fresh Air by B. C. Wolverton

book cover

How to Grow Fresh Air:
50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office
by B. C. Wolverton

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Penguin
First Released: 1997

Source: Bought from Amazon.

Book Description from Back Cover:
How Pure is the Air You Breathe?

Plants are the lungs of the earth: they produce the oxygen that makes life possible, add precious moisture, and filter toxins. Houseplants can perform these essential functions in your home or office with the same efficiency as a rainforest in our biosphere.

In research designed to create a breathable environment for a NASA lunar habitat, noted scientist Dr. B.C. Wolverton discovered that houseplants are the best filters of common pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene. Hundreds of these poisonous chemicals can be released by furniture, carpets, and building material, and then trapped by closed ventilation systems, leading to the host of respiratory and allergic reactions now called Sick Building Syndrome. In this full-color, easy-to-follow guide, Dr. Wolverton shows you how to grow and nurture 50 plants accessible and trouble-free as the tulip and the Boston fern, which includes many beautiful but commonly found varieties not generally thought of as indoor plants. He also rates each plant for its effectiveness in removing various pollutants, and its ease of growth and maintenance.

Studies show that Americans spend ninety percent of their lives indoors, which means that good indoor air quality is vital for good health. How to Grow Fresh Air will show you how to purify the environment that has the most impact on you.

How to Grow Fresh Air is a nonfiction book about plants' ability to remove common office and household toxins from our indoor air. The book had two parts: 31 pages on how plants purify the air and what the research said about which plants are best at removing common air pollutants; and 100 pages with details about the 50 house plants.

The first part discussed indoor air pollution and the health problems caused by it (with a chart showing what sources--like carpeting, paint, and plywood--gave what harmful air pollutant). The author then described how plants produce oxygen, put water into the air, etc. He then talked about studies done on the effectiveness of using houseplants to remove harmful air pollutants and what they found. He included charts showing the results for the ability of various plants to remove four different harmful air pollutants and charts for other findings. The last seven pages were a basic plant care guide on light level, planting medium, watering, and pest management.

The plant listing had a 2-page spread for each plant listed. The first page had a small, full-view picture of the plant, the plant's name (common and official), and some information about the house plant, its selection, and its care. Along one edge of the page, the following information was briefly given: name; origin; how much light it likes (full sun, semi-shade, etc.); preferred temperature range; pests and problems; care; and what to plant it in. A chart at the bottom of the page rated the plant on its ability to remove chemical vapors, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation, and the amount of water it puts into the air. The second page was a full page, close-up picture of the plant's leaves.

I bought this book several years ago because my house just "felt sick" to me. I had only three small house plants since I was growing so many plants outdoors. I found this book very interesting and immediately bought several more houseplants. They flourished, and my house stopped feeling so "sick" to me--plus I stopped getting sick all of the time. So I do think this information helped. I'd recommend it to people who feel mildly sick most of the time or are concerned about their indoor air purity.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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