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Houseplants That Help Purify The Air

HouseplantsHouseplants are not only beautiful in the home, they also help cleanse the air. Bamboo palm, Spider plant; flowering Mums; Peace lily plant and Mother-in-laws-tongue, are just a few of the best houseplants for purifying air in the home, according to an ongoing two-year study by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA).

The NASA/ALCA tests 'Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement' concentrated on solving the very important question: 'Indoor air pollution is a realistic threat to human health, so how can the problem be solved?' A promising, economical solution to indoor air pollution was to take a look at nature's life support system, plants. The initial testing has been for the indoor purification of the air from the chemicals, Benzene, Trichloroethylene and Formaldehyde.

Benzene is a commonly used solvent in such items as gasoline, inks, oils, paint, plastic and rubber. Furthermore, it is used in the manufacture of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals and dyes.

Formaldehyde is found in virtually all indoor environments. Its major sources include urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, particle board or pressed-wood products. Consumer paper products, including grocery bags, waxed paper, facial tissue and paper towels, are treated with urea formaldehyde resins. Many household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde.

Trichloroethylene is a commercial product that has a wide variety of industrial uses. It is used in some printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.

In the NASA/ALCA research it was determined that some plants are better than others for purifying the air indoors. The twelve plants tested were:

  • Bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifritzii
  • Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema modestum
  • English ivy
  • Fiscus, Benjamina
  • Gerbera daisy, Transvaal daisy
  • Dracaena 'Janet Craig'
  • Dracaena 'Marginata'
  • Corn cane, Dracaena massangeana
  • Mother-in-law's tongue, Sansevieria laurentii
  • Peace lily, Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa'
  • Pot mum, Chrysanthemum
  • Dracaena 'Warneckei'

All plants were tested in a sealed experimental chamber during a 24 hour exposure period. Here are the results of the studies:

Gerbera daisy, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Dracaena 'Janet Craig' and Bamboo palm in order were the five most effective plants in removing Trichloroethylene concentrations from the air.

Gerbera Daisy, pot Mum, Peace lily, Bamboo palm, Dracaena Warneckei, English ivy and Mother-in-law's tongue are the seven top houseplants for removing Benzene concentrations in the air.

Bamboo palm, Dracaena 'Janet Craig', Mother-in-law's tongue, Dracaena Marginata, Peace lily, green Spider plant, and golden pathos are seven of the top plants for removing concentrations of Formaldehyde in the air.

It is estimated, as a result of this research, that 15 to 20 of these test houseplants can purify the interior of a typical house of 1,800 square feet.

In our homes and in space, it looks like we can count on these houseplants to help remove harmful pollutants from the air we breathe. At the same time, these are some of the easiest plants to grow and most attractive to use for interior decorating.


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