Do houseplants really purify the air?

 Modern buildings are constructed largely with man-made building materials and furnished with synthetic carpeting, fabrics, laminated counters, plastic coated wallpaper, and other materials known to “off-gas” pollutants into the interior environment. Doesn’t sound like something you’d want to breathe in right?

NASA has been researching methods of cleansing the atmosphere in future space stations to keep them fit for human habitation over extended periods of time. They’ve found that many common houseplants and blooming potted plants help fight pollution indoors. They’re reportedly able to scrub significant amounts of harmful gases out of the air, through the everyday processes of photosynthesis. Some pollutants are also absorbed and rendered harmless in the soil. Common houseplants absorb benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well. The NASA studies generated the recommendation that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house. The more vigorously they grow, the better job they’ll do for you.

The best air detoxifiers:

  • Hedera helix   English ivy
  • Chlorophytum comosum   spider plant
  • Epipiremnum aureum   golden pothos
  • Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’    peace lily
  • Aglaonema modestum   Chinese evergreen
  • Chamaedorea sefritzii   bamboo or reed palm
  • Sansevieria trifasciata    snake plant
  • Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’   heartleaf philodendron
  • Philodendron selloum   selloum philodendron
  • Philodendron domesticum    elephant ear philodendron
  • Dracaena marginata   red-edged dracaena
  • Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’  cornstalk dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’   Janet Craig dracaena
  • Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’   Warneck dracaena
  • Ficus benjamina  weeping fig

I have 6 large houseplants and a couple of babies that I have propagated. I think they really make your house feel like a home. I was excited to read this study, now I have an excuse to go buy 6 more! 

To read the full NASA study click here.

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1 Comment

  1. April 10, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    […] Do houseplants really purify the air? […]


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