Specific houseplants have been shown to have the capability of absorbing harmful gases and chemicals, quietly improving indoor air quality while adding a touch of beauty.
All houseplants reduce levels of carbon dioxide in a home, but a 1989 study by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States) found that certain types of houseplants are superior in their abilities to remove harmful gases and chemicals which contaminate indoor air.
A few of the more common toxins neutralized by these air-filtering houseplants are:
Benzene – released from plastics, paints, solvents, inks, and rubber
Carbon monoxide – released by gas and oil furnaces, gas ranges and dryers, kerosene heaters, and wood stoves
Formaldehyde – released from fiberboard, particleboard furniture and cabinets, plywood, paneling, foam insulation, and carpeting
Trichloroethylene – released from glues, varnishes, waxes, and pesticides
Top Performing Houseplants for Cleaner Indoor Air
Many houseplants are wonderful air cleaners, but these plants are top performers for Cleaner Indoor Air:
Bamboo palm (Rhapis excelsa) – a tolerant, slow-growing palm. Good for absorbing formaldehyde.
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) – a lush plant with graceful, arching fronds. Good for absorbing formaldehyde.
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum) – a temporary houseplant; after flowering has ceased, the mum can be planted outdoors or discarded. One of the best plants for absorbing formaldehyde.
English ivy (Hedera helix) – a tolerant, hardy plant that can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. An all-around good air detoxifier.
Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) – a brightly colored plant available in late spring and summer; best discarded once flowering has ceased. Excellent for absorbing formaldehyde.
Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena fragrans) – a dark green foliage plant with long, arching leaves; tolerates a wide range of conditions. Good for absorbing formaldehyde.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) – an easy-care plant with glossy, dark green leaves and occasional large, white flowers; tolerates poor light, but requires ample watering. Especially good for absorbing formaldehyde.
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) – a plant with large, glossy leaves that benefit from an occasional cleaning (lightly apply water or warm milk to the leaves with a sponge or lint-free cloth). An all-around good air detoxifier.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – a tolerant, easy-care plant with graceful arching leaves. Especially good for absorbing carbon monoxide.
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) – an easy-care, slow-growing, evergreen tree houseplant which can grow to six feet high. An all-around good air detoxifier.
Good Houseplant Care Will Enhance Air-Cleaning Ability
Keeping houseplants well cared for and in good condition will optimize their performance as air detoxifiers.
Cleaning the leaves occasionally will also help plants perform better. Clean large leaves with a damp sponge or lint-free cloth; clean fuzzy leaves with a soft brush; clean small-leaved plants by leaving them outside in a gentle rain or by gently spraying them with clean water (do this in the morning to give the leaves plenty of time to dry before sundown).
Living Plants in the Home are Vital for Filtering Contaminated Air
The world has become polluted with harmful chemicals and toxins; the microcosm of a home is no exception. Bringing houseplants into a home adds a beautiful touch of life and greenery, as well as making the indoor environment cleaner. Every health-conscious person would do well to invite an air-friendly houseplant to share his home.