A little while back NASA conducted a study with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America on the abilities of plants to help clean indoor air and rid it of common pollutions. The study was conducted for purposes of purifying air in orbiting space stations, but the results of the study proved to be applicable to traditional homes as well.
Many homes today are as air tight as possible, as a means of conserving energy. But the result is that common indoor air pollutants, from furniture upholstery to floor stains, remain trapped inside the home. Synthetic building materials, furniture, paints, finishes, and cleaning products can emit organic compounds that have been linked to negative health affects. Together these create a phenomenon known often in office environments but also in homes as well as “sick building syndrome.”
Trees and plants, as you probably know, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis, which combat the CO2 emissions we’re constantly causing. Indoors, the same principles may be at work and are the reasons why plants prove to be very effective at removing certain interior air pollutants. The point – simple green plants can neutralize the big bad in-home contaminants.
While all of NASA’s selected plants proved to be effective at purifying the air, primarily through their leaves (roots and soil bacteria play an important role as well), certain plants seemed more effective at removing certain toxins than others.
For example, the bamboo palm, Janet Craig, and mother-in-law’s tongue all did very well in filtering out formaldehyde. Peace lily, gerbera daisy, and Marginata were effective in filtering trichloroethylene. And flowering plants like gerbera daisy and pot mums did exceptionally well in removing benzene, as did the peace lily, bamboo palm and Warneckei.