Fact or Myth: Do Indoor Plants Clean the Air?

This is a FACT.

No need to splurge on high-tech and costly air purifiers from Sharper Image and Brookstone. Scientists from NASA, Pennsylvania State University and University of Georgia all confirm that a household plant works just as well, if not better, as an air purifier. Brightening your décor with greenery and a decorative pot is an added bonus.

Indoor Air Pollution

The average American spends close to 90% of her time indoors.  Inside those four walls, however, is not the protective bubble one would think. According to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) studies, indoor air is 2 to 5 times (and in some environments 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air! The EPA has ranked inside air as one of the five top public health risks. Pollutants from combustion sources, building materials and furniture, cleaning products, cooling systems, etc., accumulate indoors…but air purifying plants offer a clean, and visually appealing source of protection.

plantPlants as Air Purifiers

Plants take in gases through their leaves and roots, a process that enables photosynthesis—the conversion of sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for growth, releasing oxygen as a byproduct. Air purifying plants not only produce life-giving oxygen, but also absorb poisonous common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benezene found in pesticides, fabrics and cigarette smoke; formaldehyde found in toiletries, detergents and carpet cleaner; and trichloroethylene found in fluids and spot removers. These VOCs have been proven to promote numerous health risks, such as asthma, nausea, chronic respiratory illness…even cancer! Microorganisms in plant soil also play a helpful role in eliminating indoor air pollutants.

Indoor Plants that Clean the Air

In an effort to filter space station air, NASA scientists conducted a study to determine the most powerful air purifying plants. Purify indoor air with the following:

  1. Aloe Vera
  2. Spider Plant
  3. Gerber Daisy
  4. Snake Plant
  5. Golden Pothos
  6. Chrysanthemum
  7. Red-edged Dracaena
  8. Weeping Fig
  9. Azalea
  10. English Ivy
  11. Warneck Dracaena
  12. Chinese Evergreen
  13. Bamboo Palm
  14. Heart Leaf Philodendron
  15. Peace Lily

A word of caution: If you have children or animals, always check to see if your indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous.  For instance, philodendrons and English ivy can be potentially poisonous if ingested.