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Houseplants: Clean Air Allies



 Houseplants: Clean Air Allies

According to NASA, certain houseplants help remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Find out which plants do it best.

Houseplants: Clean Air Allies

You may have all heard about the amazing power of some plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. But that's not the only trick they could have up their leaves.

According to a study conducted by NASA, certain houseplants can also help decrease levels of airborne formaldehyde and benzene. This is especially good news if you have an energy-efficient home, which may have less ventilation (and thereby more buildup of airborne pollutants) than a drafty house.

Learn about the pollutants featured in the NASA research, and why you don't want them in your air. Then, discover the plants proven to help remove these harmful chemicals from your indoor air.

Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in house insulation, particleboard and certain synthetic fabrics. Over time, these materials can "off-gas" and release formaldehyde into the air. For those with a sensitivity, formaldehyde can cause throat and lung irritation, and serious respiratory disorders.

Benzene is a solvent found in gasoline, some oil, paint and pharmaceuticals. When airborne, benzene has been reported to cause headaches and nausea in mild cases, and liver and kidney damage in more serious ones. Chronic exposure may even cause psychological disorders and diseases of the blood system in some people.

The NASA research tested the purifying power of common houseplants. In the experiments, plants were isolated in sealed chambers containing either formaldehyde or benzene. For decreasing airborne formaldehyde, five plants surpassed the rest:

  • Banana plant
  • Bamboo palm
  • Mother-in-law's tongue
  • English ivy
  • Heart leaf philodendron

In the experiments with benzene, the list of top ten performers included:

  • Bamboo palm
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Pot mum
  • English ivy
  • Mother-in-law's tongue

NASA scientist Bill Wolverton purchased the plants for the study at a local nursery. That's where you can buy your new air-purifying houseplants, too.

Source

Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement, a NASA study, 1989

Further Reading

How To Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office by Dr. Bill Wolverton