Using Plants as Air Purifiers

Plants do more than just beautify your home. Learn how they can keep you healthy, too!

Forget about buying expensive air-purifying equipment, you can beautify your home and clear the air at the same time with houseplants!

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, NASA experiments in air purification in space are showing that certain types of common houseplants do a terrific job getting rid of indoor pollutants that can cause a range of health problems.

There is a growing body of evidence that plants can reduce dust particles and contaminants such as formaldehyde and benzene that come from smoke, paint and paint thinner, furniture, building materials, and other common household sources.

This news comes as concerns mount regarding the quality of indoor air. We spend more than 90 per cent of our time inside, where levels of pollution can be two to five times higher than outside, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Indoor air pollutants primarily come in two forms: particle pollution (dust, pollen, animal dander, smoke) and gaseous pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that come from building materials, dry-cleaned clothing and aerosol sprays.

While there is still not enough hard evidence to make it an official mainstream policy, there is a large body of research that validates the efficacy of potted plants as air purifiers

One study suggests that six or more plants in a 120- to 140-square-metre (1,200- to 1,500-square-foot) house could notably reduce contaminants. These eight plants are especially helpful and target specific pollutants.

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix) for benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
  • Mother-in-law's Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) for alcohol, benzene, formaldehyde a. xylene
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) for formaldehyde, ammonia, n-hexane, and benzene
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) for acetone, ammonia, benzene, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol, trichloroethylene, xylene, n-hexane and toluene
  • Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) for carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene
  • Flamingo Flower (Anthurium) for ammonia, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene and benzene
  • Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis) for trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) for benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene and trichloroethylene

If you can’t find the particular plants above, big box stores with nurseries sell plants with tags promoting their air-cleaning abilities, so going green has never been so easy!


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