NASA is best known for space-related matters, but in the late eighties they conducted a Clean Air Study to find out which plants offer the most air-purifying properties. While all plants are good at cleaning up the air, NASA discovered that some plants are better than others.
You might not realize just how much house plants can help improve your overall wellbeing. Just seeing greenery on a regular basis has been proven to offer positive benefits to the mind and body.
Although, the greatest benefit of all is that plants act as a natural air purifier.
NASA’s Clean Air Study looked closely at just how well different plants removed toxins from the air, such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia, and benzene.
All of these chemicals are associated with negative health side effects, such as irritated eyes, dizziness, headaches, and so forth.
So, what are the best plants to purify indoor air? Dr. Wolverton noted the Peace Lily and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum as the two best plants to purify air.
While the study was led by Dr. B. C. Wolverton over 25 years ago, the results are still going viral today. Plus, they remain recognized as comprehensive and accurate.
You can further improve air quality by placing at least one plant every 100 square feet of living space.
According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, the Peace Lily (pictured above) and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum (pictured below) are the best air purifiers because they filter out the greatest number of toxins.
What Toxins Are Lurking in Your Home?
Formaldehyde is just one of many toxins that certain plants help filter out of the air. Formaldehyde is found in facial tissues, paper towels, napkins, plywood paneling, synthetic fibers, and paper bags. It is also found floating in our air.
Benzene is another toxin commonly found indoors. It is used to manufacture plastics, synthetic fibers, dyes, detergents, pesticides, drugs, and more. In addition, it can come from furniture wax, vehicle exhaust fumes, glue and paint.
Xylene gets into the air from vehicle exhaust (which blows right in through your windows). It is also found in printing, rubber, leather and paint industries, as well as tobacco smoke.
Trichloroethylene is another indoor air pollutant to watch out for. It is commonly found in paint, lacquers, printing inks, adhesives, varnishes, and paint removal products.
Ammonia is found in harsh cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts and fertilizers. It is yet another common pollutant found in many homes.
Luckily, adding the right mix of interior plants can decrease your exposure to these chemicals.
Different plants offer protection from different toxins. The Peace Lily and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum were rated as the best air purifying plants because they filter out 5 of the main interior pollutants.
For instance, while the Bamboo Palm can filter out formaldehyde and xylene, the Peace Lily can filter out formaldehyde and xylene, along with trichloroethylene, benzene, and ammonia.
Plants that filter out formaldehyde and xylene:
- The Dwarf Date Palm
- Boston Fern
- Kimberley Queen Fern
- Spider Plant
- Bamboo Palm
- Weeping Fig
Plants that filter out formaldehyde, xylene and benzene:
- Devil’s Ivy
- Plants that filter out formaldehyde and benzene:
- Chinese Evergreen
- Plants that filter out formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia:
- Flamingo Lily
- Broadleaf Lady Palm
Plants that filter out trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia:
Plants that filter out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and xylene:
- Barberton Daisy
Plants that filter out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene:
- Cornstalk Dracaena
Plants that filter out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene:
- English Ivy
- Varigated Snake Plant
- Red-Edged Dracaena
Plants that filter out all 5 toxins (trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia):
- Peace Lily
- Florist’s Chrysanthemum
It’s important to note that some of these plants are toxic to pets, so always research plant toxicity before bringing any plants into your home.
Can these indoor air pollutants really harm you? In small doses, healthy people won’t notice they’ve been exposed to any of these substances. Although, small quantities over a long period of time can build up in your system and create symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, irritation, certain illnesses, and so forth.
As detailed in NASA’s report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that people who live in mobile homes for long periods of time are more likely to develop a rare type of throat cancer due to exposure to formaldehyde.
People spend the majority of their life indoors. Even if your home is clean and smells nice, there is still a great possibility that you are breathing in toxins on a daily basis. On the bright side, plants look nice and they can help protect your health.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit up your local nursery!