NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants

By:  Lynsey Bish

Surprisingly modern furnishings, synthetic building materials, and even your own carpet carry more chemicals than expected and can make up to 90 percent of indoor air pollution. NASA researchers Clean Air study found that plants can play a major role in effectively removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, and xylene from the air. This list of chemicals have been linked to health effects like headaches and eye irritation.

So how do houseplants clean the air? Carbon dioxide and some particulates for the air are processed into oxygen though photosynthesis, but that’s not all! Microorganisms associated with the plants are present in potting soil, and responsible for much of the air purification. Beyond air purification indoor plants have shown to boost our mood. For example, patients who were placed in a recovery room after surgery with plants were more positive and had lower stress and blood pressure.[1]

For those of us who don’t really have a green thumb, I’ve selected five indoor houseplants that are almost impossible to kill.

Spider Plant

(Image from lovethegarden.com)

Spider plants are one of the easiest plants to take care of. So, if you forget about watering it for a few days, it’s okay! If you do notice that it is particularly dry, hang them in the bathroom while you’re in the shower. Spider Plants are non-toxic to pets and children. They love bright, indirect sunlight and can grow in any soil.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

This plant is one of the hardest houseplants to kill, just make sure that you water it occasionally. Although, this plant does prefer drier conditions and some sun.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is one of my personal favorite houseplants, in addition to being easy to care for; aloe has some hidden additional benefits. This plant is full of a clear liquid that is packed with vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pollutant removed: formaldehyde

Peace Lily    

You may not think that a Peace Lily will really make a difference with air purification based on its size, but it packs a punch with some major air-cleaning abilities. They enjoy shady areas and a moist soil. Just be mindful that they do bloom throughout the summer which can contribute some pollen and floral scents.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

Garden Mum

The Garden Mum is the air-purifying champion! This plant is inexpensive and available at local garden stores. Mums love light and lots of water. They are simple to grow and to propagate. Mum’s bloom through the months when other plants are completely spent. Take advantage of this unique plant and spruce up your home or office with an array of colorful Mums.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene

 


[1] Park, Seong-Hyun, and Richard H. Mattson. “Ornamental Indoor Plants in Hospital Rooms Enhanced Health Outcomes of Patients Recovering from Surgery.” The Journal of Alternativeand Complementary Medicine 15.9 (2009): 975-80. Web.

 

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