Can House Plants Improve Air Quality?
Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’, heart leaf philodendronIn 1989, a two year study was completed by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) resulted in how common household plants can purify the air in our homes and offices.
These studies were conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson, and Keith Bounds. While it was originally intended to find ways to purify the air for extended stays in orbiting space stations, the study proved to have implications on Earth as well.
They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Great news for us the plants can also help clean indoor air on Earth, which is typically far more polluted than outdoor air.
In the study NASA and ALCA tested primarily for three chemicals: Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Trichloroethylene. Formaldehyde is used in many building materials including particle board and foam insulations. Many cleaning products contain this chemical. Benzene is a common solvent found in oils and paints. Trichloroethylene is used in paints, adhesives, inks and varnishes.
While it is a well known fact that plants capture light and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. This means they have greater potential to absorb other gasses, including potentially harmful ones.
With our newer ultra modern homes and offices that are virtually sealed off from the outside environment, this study showed that these trapped pollutants can result in what is called Sick Building Syndrome.
NASA also noted that some plants are better than others in treating certain chemicals.
For example: For filtering Formaldehyde, these plants worked best. Bamboo palm, Mother-in-law’s tongue, dracaena warneckei, Peace lily, Dracaena marginata, Golden Pathos, and Green Spider.
For Benzene, these plants worked best. English Ivy, Gerbera Daisies, Pot Mums, Peace Lily, Bamboo Palm, and Mother’s in-law’s Tongue.
For Trichloroethylene, these worked best. Peace lily, Gerbera Daisy, and the Bamboo Palm.
After conducting the study, NASA and ALCA came up with a list of the most effective plants for treating indoor air pollution.
The recommended plants can be found below. I have noted whether they are toxic to dogs, and cats.
Keep in mind any plant can cause vomiting or an allergic reaction whether they are toxic or non toxic in our pets. If you suspect your pet has gotten into a plant bring them to your local veterinary immediately.
- Philodendron scandens ‘ oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron (Toxic)
- Philodendron domesticum, Elephant ear philodendron (Toxic)
- Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena (Toxic)
- Hedera helix, English Ivy (Toxic)
- Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant (Non Toxic)
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena (Toxic)
- Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena (Toxic)
- Ficus benjamina, weeping fig (Toxic)
- Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos (Toxic)
- Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’, peace lily (Toxic)
- Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron (Toxic)
- Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen (Toxic)
- Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm (Non Toxic)
- Sansevieria trifasciata, Mother in-law Tongue (Toxic)
- Dracaena marginata, red-edged dracaena (Toxic)
“Clean up your air quality today”