Katie Stevens, Sustainable Utah Blog Writing Intern.
Living in Salt Lake City, we are no strangers to air pollution and its harmful effects. Breathing in toxic air can cause a range of health concerns including increased asthmatic symptoms, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and more.
It is no surprise that we often retreat into our homes to catch a breath of fresh air; however, sometimes our indoor air quality could be improved. Common indoor air pollutants include benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia. There are certain plants that can combat these indoor air pollutants, according to a study done by NASA.
Here are five plants that can improve your indoor air quality:
- FLORIST’S CHRYSANTHEMUM (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- Helps to rid the air of: Trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia.
- Care: Keep the plant in cooler temperatures and keep the soil moist at all times. Requires bright light.
- Toxic? Chrysanthemum leaves are toxic so keep this in a safe spot away from any furry friends and youngsters.
- PEACE LILY (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
- Helps rid the air of: Trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia.
- Care: Average room temperature is good for this plant. Keep the soil evenly moist and be sure to have a pot with a drainage hole. Bright light is recommended, but not direct sunlight.
- Toxic? Yes
- ENGLISH IVY (Hedera helix)
- Helps rid the air of: Trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene.
- Care: Keep under bright light, preferably fluorescent. Soil should be kept moist spring through fall and a bit drier in winter. Ivy likes cool to average room temperatures.
- Toxic? English Ivy leaves are toxic if eaten and can irritate the skin; it is always a good idea to wear gloves while handling this plant.
- BARBERTON DAISY (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Helps rid the air of: Trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and xylene.
- Care: This plant requires bright light to full sun and thorough watering. Prefers cool to average temperatures.
- Toxic? Non-toxic.
- BROADLEAF LADY PALM (Rhapis excelsa)
- Helps rid the air of: Formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia.
- Care: Keep this plant in bright, but indirect light. Soil should be kept evenly moist in the spring and summer and should be dried out between watering in the winter.
- Toxic? Non-toxic.
I invite you to create your indoor air sanctuary with these plants and test out your green thumb this winter!
Cover Photo Via Pixabay CC0
Sustainability Office receives “Your Utah Your Future” award.
On May 31 at the State Capitol, the University of Utah Sustainability Office was honored to receive a Your Utah Your Future award from Envision Utah for our U Drive Electric program—a community discount program for electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles.
Envision Utah is a nonprofit community partnership that includes both public and private sectors, with the goal of maintaining a high quality of life for current and future generations of Utahns. Envision Utah recognized the combined success of two electric vehicle programs – U Drive Electric, which was managed by University of Utah in coordination with Salt Lake City, and Drive Electric Northern Utah with Utah State University and Weber State University. Both electric programs were administered by Utah Clean Energy with support from UCAIR.
“We are thrilled to be honored and to share this recognition with our great partners and all those who participated in the program,” said Amy Wildermuth, the university’s chief sustainability officer. “The university strives to serve as a model for what is possible in sustainability. Only 22% of the people who enrolled in U Drive Electric had planned to buy an electric vehicle. But what they saw and heard about electric vehicles inspired them. With over 200 zero to low emission vehicles now on the roads, we know that programs like these play an important role in our shared goal of improving our air quality and community.”
Commuters who ride their bikes to work may be happier than their compatriots who drive solo. While cycling may not be feasible for all individuals, those who can partake may find relief from avoiding traffic congestion and breathing in the great outdoors. Biking is typically considered a fair-weather activity, but with a few additional layers and inexpensive bike additions, cyclists can continue to enjoy their commutes even as the temperatures fall. Don’t forget to log your bike trips in the Clean Air for U Challenge!
By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt and Nate Bramhall, Sustainability Office. Originally posted on Jan. 23 2017.
Drive less to help clean the air. Mobile sources, including personal vehicles, are responsible for nearly half of the emissions that cause elevated PM 2.5 levels — emissions so small that they easily embed in our bodies, creating lung and heart issues. Walk, bike, take TRAX, carpool, ride buses and shuttles — do whatever you can to not drive alone to improve the quality of the air we breathe here in Salt Lake City.
Collectively, we can make a difference, so sign up for February’s 2nd Annual Clean Air for U: A TravelWise Challenge and log your non-single-occupant-vehicle trips. Consider this: Up to 65,000 people travel to the University of Utah during a given week when counting students, faculty and full- and part-time staff. By not driving alone, we can make a huge difference in our air quality. Plus, Clean Air for U participants are eligible for prizes, including memberships for GREENbike and Enterprise CarShare and day-use state park passes. Additionally, the top five individuals will dine with Chief Sustainability Officer Amy Wildermuth and Senior Vice President Ruth Watkins. Learn more about the Clean Air for U Challenge and other air quality solutions at the U Clean Air Expo on Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Union Lobby near the services desk.
While we at the Sustainability Office think air quality is the most important reason to get out of your car, here are five more benefits:
- Skip the Slip ‘N Slide. Living among the mountains is breathtaking (when you can see the mountains), but it also means we occupy a hilly and potentially icy community. Why risk your own personal property? Hop on a UTA bus or TRAX, which you can ride for free with your UCard.
- Avoid road rage. Anyone who’s done the morning commute to the University of Utah knows that there’s nothing more infuriating than shuffling through stop-and-go traffic. We know road congestion causes elevated stress, but research also suggests it is negatively impacting your heart health. Spare yourself the drama: Ride UTA and enjoy your coffee.
- Save time by not digging out your car. Here’s something you never hear: “Hey, would you mind using this flimsy piece of plastic to clear all the ice and snow off this bus?” That’s because UTA takes care of its fleet, so even on snowy days, the buses are ice-free and warm when we board. UTA’s got your back when the icy mornings don’t.
- Make a bus or train buddy. It’s a familiar scene: You hop on the train, find an open seat, steal a glance upwards to find that everyone else is staring intently at their smartphone. Contrary to expectations, conversing with strangers on public transit actually affects your mood positively. So, curb the stuffy silence and strike up a friendly conversation with your neighbor.
- Keep your money. Because your UCard doubles as a UTA pass, it doesn’t cost you anything extra to take public transportation. Plus, athletics tickets also serve as fare when traveling to and from games, so use UTA to travel to sporting events with your family and friends.