Fighting a Sore Throat with Indoor Plants and a Cigarette Smoke Remover

By | October 29, 2009

I’ve had a sore throat and swollen glands for about two weeks now. I’ve had tests for strep and mono (negative) and also my immune system’s RH factors, white blood cell counts, are normal. The doctor says I have a virus and some viruses just take your body a few weeks to fight. I had a similar virus in January (the whole month!) As a normally healthy person, this is very frustrating!

Tips for sore throat:

  1. Change toothbrush
  2. wash bedding including pillow cases
  3. replace pillows
  4. suck on zinc lozenges
  5. floss three times a day
  6. use a tongue scraper/cleaner
  7. gargle with salt water
  8. sleep with wet washcloth over nose and mouth
  9. get dental exam (is decay in a tooth making you sick?)
  10. get away from cigarette smoke
  11. clean the freeway pollution from inside your home
  12. get rid of mold (if you can see it or smell it)

I moved to get away from a smoking neighbor, but the apartment where I’m living now allows smokers and, just my luck, several live next door to me. Smoke comes through the vents and under my front door. They smoke outside my window. I can smell it inside my apartment each time I come home right, when I open my apartment door. I think this is making me sick. See:

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Secondhand-Smoke-Coming-Into-Your-Apartment

Here is another tip:

Get a 20 inch box fan. The older models are better than new models in the stores because the old models are quieter and move less air. The newer models sound like jet planes and move so much air it can be irritating. THe good part, there are millions of the old box fans in garages and basements all over the country.

Buy the Allergen Filtrete 1000 furnace filter by 3M in the red and white wrapper. Use masking tape, or duct tape to tape the filter sealing the edge completely to the back of the fan, so the air is pulled thru the filter. If you attach the filter to the front of the fan very little air will pass through, and it puts a bad load on the motor. Run the fan on low 24 hrs.

I have tested every model of filter. Only the Filtrete 1000 works. If you have cigarette smoke the 1000 rapidly turns grey, then coal black. Other Filtrete filters including the 700 model, or the 1200 utlra model stay white no matter how long you use them. The 1200 is supposed to be the top of the line, but it does not have the affinity for smoke particles like the 1000. I can buy the 1000 at Target, or Sears Home Hardware. Walmarts does not carry the 1000. You can also get them on the net cheaper in quantity. … 3M says the Filtrete lasts about 3 months. For us, a filter lasted about 4 weeks before it was black as coal and clogged with a mass of dust. You could tell it was spent because you would start to notice the cigarette scent again, and the fan would become louder due to the load. Putting in a new filter made a fast improvement in the smell. … (Lasko Model 3900) is designed to handle the load a filter puts on a fan motor. – thathomesite

Worth a try. I’m going to get this fan and this filter.

I also now live near a freeway. After a good night’s sleep in my new place, my throat is actually worse! Since moving again is not an option, I’m going to attempt to health-ify my environment.

I’ll start today by sealing off all the vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape (I’d rather be cold than sick.) See cautions about airflow, however…  My plan is to have a fan that brings  air in though a good filter on one side of the apartment and vent it out the other. Is there ANY kind of filter can stop particulate matter, Trichloroethylene, Benzene, and Formaldehyde and the other nasty things in cigarette smoke? Here is a list of cancer causing agents and poisons from a cigarette:

  • Tar – a mixture of dangerous chemicals
  • Arsenic – used in wood preservatives
  • Benzene – an industrial solvent, refined from crude oil
  • Cadmium – used in batteries
  • Formaldehyde – used in mortuaries and paint manufacturing
  • Polonium-210 – a highly radioactive element
  • Chromium – used to manufacture dye, paints and alloys
  • 1,3-Butadiene – used in rubber manufacturing
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – a group of dangerous DNA-damaging chemicals
  • Nitrosamines – another group of DNA-damaging chemicals
  • Acrolein – formerly used as a chemical weapon
  • Hydrogen cyanide – used as an industrial pesticide
  • Carbon monoxide – found in car exhausts and used in chemicals manufacturing
  • Nitrogen oxides – a major component of smog
  • Ammonia – used to make fertilisers and explosives

After that, house plants to remove the Trichloroethylene, Benzene, and Formaldehyde in my air from the freeway.

The toxic gas formaldehyde is contained in building materials including carpeting, curtains, plywood, and adhesives. As it is emitted from these sources, it deteriorates the air quality, which can lead to “multiple chemical sensitivity” and “sick building syndrome”, medical conditions with symptoms such as allergies, asthma, and headaches. The prevalence of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds VOC is greater in new construction.

Researchers are studying the ability of plants to reduce formaldehyde levels in the air. A study led by Kwang Jin Kim of Korea’s National Horticultural Research Institute compared the absorption rate of two types of houseplants. The results of the experiment on Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and Fatsia japonica, an evergreen shrub, were published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science.

During the study, equal amounts of formaldehyde were pumped into containers holding each type of plant in three configurations: whole, roots-only with the leafy portion cut off, and aerial-only, with the below-ground portion sealed off, leaving the stem and leaves exposed.

The results showed the combined total of aerial-only and roots-only portions was similar to the amount removed by whole plants. Complete plants removed approximately 80% of the formaldehyde within 4 hours.

… Researchers consider microorganisms living among the soil and root system to be a major contributor to the reduction. Japonica were planted in larger pots than the ficus, which may account for the lower night reduction rate of the latter. More knowledge of the contributions of microorganisms is cited by the study to be important in further understanding the air purifying potential of plants.

via Indoor Plants Can Reduce Formaldehyde Levels.

See my previous post on this topic. This summary of a NASA study is from colostate:

Pollutant                         Source                     Plants that Remove Pollutant

Benzene Inks, oils, paints, plastics,rubber, dyes, detergents,gasoline, pharmaceutical,tobacco smoke, synthetic fibers English Ivy, Dracaena marginata, Janet Craig, Warneckei, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera Daisy, Peace lily
Formaldehyde Foam insulation, plywood, pressed-wood products, grocery bags, waxed paper, fire retardants, adhesive binders in floor coverings, cigarette smoke, natural gas Azalea, Philodendron, Spider plant, Golden Pothos, Bamboo palm, Corn plant, Chrysanthemum, Mother-in-law’s tongue
Trichloroethylene Primarily used in the metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries; also in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives Gerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Peace lily, Warneckei, Dracaena marginata

3 thoughts on “Fighting a Sore Throat with Indoor Plants and a Cigarette Smoke Remover

  1. Pingback: Fighting a Sore Throat with Indoor Plants and a Cigarette Smoke … | Drewpol Drzwi

  2. eureka

    Hi Xeno,
    I know, it’s been years since you posted it and you might have found the solutions already, hopefully you did by now.
    I’m living in the building where people smoke front and back, around and about everywhere. So, I looked on the net.
    I just wanted to share what I just found on the internet few minutes ago, I found out that if you place considerably big Areca Palm tree (Golden Cane Tree, Butterfly Palm etc. it has many names), and a considerable 1 or 2 big Snake Plant (sansiviera or mother-in-laws tongue plant) in one room, you don’t need commercial air filter.
    Because Areca palm will clean formaldehyde from cigarette and provide oxygen in day time, while Snake plant will also clean cigarette toxins and provide oxygen at night time.
    But the plants needs to be big and vigorous, and they need some sunlight and fresh air sometimes. You need to clean plant’s leaves under and over frequently if the pollution is high, occasionally if the pollution is low. Otherwise the plants will suffocate and die by the pollution of cigarette smoke as they will be unable to use their pores to circulate the air.
    With Areca Palm tree and Snake plants in room, you can live in a closed room for days without opening windows because Areca Palm produces oxygen at day time and Snake plant produces oxygen at night time!
    Beside these plants, adding 1 small commercial air filter just for the purpose of cigarette smoke won’t harm and will be easy to look after than bulky air filters. Small air filter also consumes less electricity. But make sure you get the air filter that is less sound decibels, may be under 25 or 30 decibels? And be wary, some say quiet but when you check the decibels they are so high.
    Good luck.

    1. Xeno Post author

      Great info, thanks! My solution was to move away, but it sounds like this will help someone. Here is some similar info:

      Spider plant, snake plant and Heart Leaf Philodendron eliminate the carbon monoxide sufficiently. Areca palm tree and lady palm are also worth mentioning, because those two plants are the most efficient in dealing with various gas pollution.

      Remember that plants can not remove dust from the air – for this you will need to read a good quality air purifier review and check out suggestions from friends.

      The list of beneficial for air condition plants could not be complete without rubber plant, Ficus alli and Aloe Vera, all three well known for their features. If you care for clean air in your apartment and especially, if you are a smoker, arrange your interior in a way that incorporates one of those plants into every room.
      It will also be worth you checking out 15 plants famous for air pollution reduction- a recent article i just had published.- link

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