Indoor air pollution is a serious issue that can lead to a range of health problems, from headaches and dizziness to respiratory issues and even cancer. While many people assume that the air inside their homes and workplaces is clean, the truth is that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Fortunately, there are ways to improve indoor air quality, and one of the most effective is by using indoor plants to purify the air. Some benefits of adding indoor plants to your living space include:
- Regulate humidity levels
- Maintain temperature
- Reduce levels of carbon dioxide
- Remove air pollutants and dust
Numerous studies have shown that indoor plants can eliminate harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. Formaldehyde is a common pollutant found in building materials, furniture, and cleaning products. It can cause eye irritation, respiratory issues, and even cancer with prolonged exposure. Benzene is found in gasoline, plastics, and synthetic fibers and is a known carcinogen. Trichloroethylene is a toxic chemical used in dry cleaning and industrial solvents, which can cause dizziness, headaches, and liver damage.
Indoor plants remove toxins through a process called phytoremediation, which involves absorbing toxins through their leaves and roots and breaking them down into harmless byproducts. This process occurs naturally and is an effective way to clean the air. In addition to removing toxins, plants can also improve air quality by increasing humidity levels, which can reduce the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that indoor plants can effectively reduce formaldehyde levels by up to 47%. The study used the Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Golden Pothos, and Snake Plant to remove formaldehyde from the air. The Peace Lily was the most effective, reducing formaldehyde levels by 52% after three days of exposure. Another study published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal demonstrated that indoor plants could remove benzene from the air. The study used the Devil’s Ivy, Golden Pothos, and Peace Lily to reduce benzene levels by up to 80%. Similarly, a study published in the Water, Air, and Soil Pollution journal showed that indoor plants could reduce trichloroethylene levels. The study used the Areca Palm, Bamboo Palm, and Dwarf Date Palm to reduce trichloroethylene levels by up to 50%.
NASA has also conducted studies on indoor plants' air purifying abilities, with their Clean Air Study being one of the most well-known. The study found that indoor plants can significantly improve air quality by removing harmful pollutants. The plants identified in the study which are most effective plants for removing toxins from the air include:
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
- Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
- Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
The study found that these plants could reduce levels of formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, as well as other pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. These plants are not only effective air purifiers but also easy to maintain, making them perfect for homes and workplaces. For example,
- Snake Plant: one of the most effective air purifying plants, removing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. It also produces oxygen at night, improving air quality at night and improving sleep, making it a great option for bedrooms.
- The Peace Lily: known for its ability to remove formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. It also removes VOCs and increases humidity levels, making it a good choice for the kitchen or bathroom.
- Spider Plant: effective at removing formaldehyde and xylene from the air. It is also easy to care for and can produce small white flowers.
- Golden Pothos: known for its ability to remove formaldehyde and benzene. It is a fast-growing plant that can be easily propagated, making it a great option for beginners.
- Aloe Vera: not only known for its skin-soothing properties but also for its ability to remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
In terms of how much they remove, the effectiveness of plants varies depending on the size of the room and the concentration of toxins in the air. However, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture found that incorporating plants into an office space can reduce carbon dioxide levels by up to 50% and volatile organic compounds by up to 60%. This reduction can lead to improved cognitive function and productivity, making indoor plants a worthwhile investment.
In conclusion, indoor plants can be an effective and affordable way to improve indoor air quality and physical well-being by removing harmful toxins from the air. Studies have shown that incorporating plants into indoor spaces can lead to improved cognitive function, productivity, and overall well-being. By choosing plants such as the Snake Plant, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Golden Pothos, and Aloe Vera, you can not only improve the air quality in your home or workplace but also enhance its aesthetic appeal.
- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: "Phytoremediation: A Novel Strategy for the Removal of Toxic Contaminants from the Environment Using Plants" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230460
- Environmental Science and Technology: "The Green Filter: A Cost-Effective Method for Controlling Airborne Toxicants in Indoor Environments" https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es0010507
- Water, Air, and Soil Pollution: "Phytoremediation of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the Indoor Environment: A Literature Review"