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Houseplants have returned to the level of popularity that they enjoyed in the 1970s, macrame hanger and all, according to Kate Terrell, owner of Wallace's Garden Center and Greenhouses, Bettendorf and Davenport.

From urban hipster apartment dwellers to open-concept home suburbanites, houseplants are back in vogue with all generations and any decor. What better way to bring life to a room then with actual life?

Following is an article on the air-purifying benefits of houseplants and some good varieties to buy if you are just getting started and don't want them to die. It is reprinted from Wallace's newsletter.

That houseplants have a proven ability to filter toxins and clean the air was discovered during the early years of the NASA space stations as scientists were looking for ways to detoxify the air in those spaces. Here are their recommendations.

1. Spider plants. These are perfect beginner houseplants because they are easy to grow, tolerate low light, and thrive in cooler temperatures. They also produce smaller spiders (baby plants) that can be propagated. They are pros at ridding the air of formaldehyde, a carcinogen used to treat wooden furniture.

Spider plants also get rid of xylene, a powerful chemical found in many household cleaning products and detergents.

In one test, NASA even found that spider plants removed 95 percent of toxic air from a sealed chamber in 24 hours.

2. Peace lilies. These graceful floor plants are as common in homes as they are in offices, likely due to their ease of care and adaptability to low light. These plants remove from the atmosphere the ammonia found in plastics, fabrics, dyes and cleaning products, a substance that can otherwise cause itchy eyes, skin, and worsen some asthma patients' breathing.

They flower several times per year and boast glossy green foliage all year round.

3. Sanseveieria. Also known as mother-in-law's tongue, this plant is extremely hardy — it just keeps on living. It grows well in moderate to low light and is quite forgiving if you neglect to water on a regular basis.

Its thick, rainbow-like leaves make it particularly pretty, and it's the go-to plant for removing xylene from the home. Xylene is commonly used in paints, adhesives, magic markers and nail polish.

Xylene can be extremely dangerous — long-term exposure can lead to nausea, irritability, depression and short-term memory loss. It can also lead to liver and kidney problems and chest pain.

4. Anthurium. Also known as the flamingo flower, or laceleaf, anthurium plants are toxic to eat, but they'll do wonders for the air around you.

These lovely-looking blooms have large leaves — perfect for all the ammonia, formaldehyde and xylene they soak up through the day — so are great to have near printers or adhesives.

The plants fill the air around them with moisture and convert the harmful toxins to harmless vapors that are safe for us to inhale.

5. Aloe Vera. This nifty, spiky little addition to the home or office has been hailed as a miracle plant for decades.

It treats rashes, soothes burns and improves immune systems, but that's not all it can do.

It also is a great remover of the formaldehyde found all over the surfaces we use every day.

It soaks up benzenes too, chemicals found in plastics and detergents which can wreck your blood cells and bone marrow.

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