Foliage plants are not only beautiful and fun, but they are also the latest word in a healthy environment. Research shows that houseplants play an important role in cleaning the air we breathe, both indoors and out.
Plants produce their own food through a process called photosynthesis. This means they take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Photosynthesis “cleans” our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and by taking in certain other pollutants as well.
A team of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers lead by Dr. Bill Wolverton tested the effect of fifteen houseplants on three pollutants known to be present in spacecrafts. These same three pollutants — benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene — are present in homes and office buildings and are emitted by furnishings, office equipment and some building materials.
Under controlled conditions in the NASA study, certain houseplants were found to remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.
Until recently, indoor air pollution was not considered a health threat; most homes and public buildings leaked so much that air often was replaced every couple of hours. But during the 1970’s, after energy shortages occurred, more and more of us began to insulate our houses and office buildings to conserve energy to lower heating and cooling costs. As a result, indoor air might linger for five hours or more allowing pollutants to accumulate.
Researchers are just beginning to understand how indoor pollutants such as cigarette smoke can harm humans. Effects range from skin and eye irritations to headaches and allergies. Some of the pollutants may be carcinogenic. According to the NASA study, the plants listed below proved effective in removing certain indoor air pollutants.
|Benzene||Detergents, dyes, gasoline, inks, oils, paints, pharmaceutical, plastics, rubber, synthetic fibers, tobacco smoke||Chrysanthemum,
Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’, Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’, English Ivy, Gerbera Daisy, Peace Lily
|Formaldehyde||Adhesive binders in floor covering, cigarette smoke, fire retardants,
foam insulation, grocery bags, natural gas, plywood, pressed-wood products, waxed paper
|Azalea, Bamboo Palm, Chrysanthemum, Corn Plant, Golden Pothos,
Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Philodendron, Rhapis Palm, Spider Plant
|Trichloroethylene||Primarily used in adhesives, dry cleaning industry, lacquers,
metal degreasing industry, paints, printing inks, varnishes
Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’, Dracaena marginata,
Gerbera Daisy, Peace Lily
The NASA researchers suggest that for plants to be effective “air cleaners” it is necessary to use one – 6” potted plant per 100 square feet interior space.
Clean, oxygenated air is healthier, clears your head and increases brain function and clean fresh air in our home feels so much better. Try it today!
*Information for this document was obtained from NASA