In 1989, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) carried out Clean Air Study and published results that provided a definitive list of the plants that are most effective at purifying indoor air. The report suggested to have at least one plant at every hundred square feet of home or office space.
The study, led by Dr. B. C. Wolverton, found that some plants were effective at filtering out the likes of benzene, ammonia and formaldehyde from the air, helping to neutralize the effects of Sick building syndrome. They found certain tropical plants, which are commonly used as houseplants are quite effective in removing formaldehyde, trichloroethane, benzene and other pollutants from the air and replacing them with breathable oxygen.
The aptly named ‘Florist’s Mum’ (Chrysanthemum) proved most effective, alongside the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), both shown to filter out amounts of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia, almost most type of harmful substances. While the research does date back over 25 years ago, the findings have stood the test of time, and are regarded as the most comprehensive and accurate results to date.
There are several other research done since then for reducing indoors air pollution, all of them resulted positive on effectiveness of nature gifted purifiers. Its a scientifically proven fact that our houses are more polluted than open areas in cities like Delhi, lets look at the NASA study report plants with their effectiveness to clean the indoors air:
Knowing Chemical Agents
Trichloroethylene – Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: excitement, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting followed by drowsiness and coma.
Formaldehyde – Found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, plywood paneling, and synthetic fabrics. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to nose, mouth and throat, and in severe cases, swelling of the larynx and lungs.
Benzene – Used to make plastics, resins, lubricants, detergents, and drugs. Also found in tobacco smoke, glue, and furniture wax. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, increased heart rate, confusion and in some cases can result in unconsciousness.
Xylene – Found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, confusion, heart problems, liver and kidney damage and coma.
Ammonia – Found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilizers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include: eye irritation, coughing, sore throat.
Air purifying plants tested by NASA
1. English Ivy (Hedera Helix)
The English Ivy is ideal for pots because its invasive nature allows it to spread easily. Research found it to be particularly useful in eliminating airborne fecal-matter particles. The plant is also great for a family with smokers in it. Its ability to soak up carcinogens from second-hand smoke helps to purify small areas. It’s also versatile when it comes to growing conditions and doesn’t require much maintenance.
2. Golden Pathos (Epipremnum Aureum)
NASA considered this plant one of the most effective choices for eliminating formaldehyde. People that have struggled to keep plants alive can rejoice – this one is incredibly hard to kill. It doubles as an effective eliminator of carbon monoxide as well. The vines grow fairly quickly and look great suspended from elevated areas.
3. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exalta Bostoniensis)
This lush plant functions really well as a natural air humidifier. While it’s busy adding humidity to the environment it also does a great job eliminating formaldehyde. It’s large feathered ferns span as large as 5 feet and allow just a single plant to have a noticeable impact.
4. Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis)
The long striped leaves of this plant can easily thrive indoors with only small amounts of sunlight and moderate watering. It’s an excellent way to eliminate trichloroethylene that comes from solvents and varnishes. A single plant can grow over ten feet tall, but pruning will keep it short if you prefer.
5. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii)
The Bamboo Palm can easily fit into smaller areas with indirect lighting. NASA found it to be one of the best air filters for benzene and trichloroethylene, and a great humidifier. This palm is a bit smaller than others and easy to grow in shady areas. It releases a good deal of moisture into the air and is considerably resistant to insect infestation.
6. Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata)
This plant is a widely popular option for office spaces and homes for its attractive look and effective purifying power. It pulls xylene – a chemical released from car exhaust, paints, and cigarettes – from the air with little need for maintenance. It can also be potted together and trained to grow into a braid for visual appeal and added purification.
7. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The Peace Lily is one of the most visually appealing plants on the list with its unique white flowers. It boasts one of the highest transpiration rates on the list as well. Use it to remove formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, acetone, and alcohols from the air. Just be cautious of the plants high toxicity and keep it out of reach of children and pets.
8. Florist’s daisy (Chrysanthemum Morifolium)
Florist’s daisy (Chrysanthemum Morifolium) is a variety of mums (Chrysanthemum), it is very hardy plant which is found all over the world at florist shops because of its unlimited exotic flowers color, shade and size variations. One of the worlds most sold flower is native to Asia and it is one of the “Four Gentlemen” of China (the others being the plum blossom, the orchid, and bamboo). Chrysanthemum morifolium is very effective plant for purifying the environment.
9. Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa)
The Lady Palm requires a lot of watering during the spring and summer but makes up for it with its heavy resistance to insects. The lush leaves of this palm grow thick and with rich color without much effort. It’s said to be a versatile and effective filter for multiple indoor pollutants.
10. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
The Spider Plant requires natural light but shouldn’t be exposed directly to the sun. It thrives in moist environments with bi-weekly watering and grows at impressive speeds. Owners prefer to place these plants near the fireplace and kitchen where carbon monoxide may build.
11. Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
The Snake Plant is unique in that it sucks in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night. Many people chose to keep it in their bedroom or carpeted living room. It’s simple to take care of and prevents the formaldehyde that leaks from your carpet and wood furniture from sticking around the air.
12. Ficus (Ficus Benjamina)
The Ficus tree is one of the more common indoor plants, and is typically found in offices across the country. The appearance resembles an outdoor tree, which is why this is one of the more popular choices. It’s good at removing toxins from the air, and has been proven to remove airborne formaldehyde and other poisons. You may find that the plant outgrows the area you’ve designated for it, at which point it will need to be pruned down to size.
13. Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)
Moth Orchids are especially good at taking care of xylene and toluene, two chemicals that generally find their way into homes due to the large number of household items that contain them. Everything from fingernail polish to glues, paint to paint thinner could have xylene and toluene in them. This means it’s extra important to have plants that can clean up the air making it safer to breath.
14. Barberton Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)
These daisies will surely brighten your day when they’re in bloom, and the rest of the time the plant itself will be hard at work keeping your air clean. They’re effective at cleaning up three different indoor pollutants, and whether or not you notice an immediate difference, your air will be cleaner, which makes a big difference over the long term.This is an indoor/outdoor plant that you’ll want to place outdoors during the summer so that it can get the most sunshine.
15. Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena Fragrans)
This plant is aptly named and resembles a cornstalk, while still maintaining an attractive enough appearance to add to the decor of your home. You’ll be happy it’s there, because it will be helping to remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from inside your home.
16. Pleomele (Dracaena Reflexa)
Here’s a pretty plant that would love a spot in your home. It’s also known as Song of India and has a very distinct look to it. This is one plant that you don’t want to miss out on, as it has been proven to be one of the best at removing several different indoor toxins, including xylene and trichloroethylene.
17. Aloe vera (Aloe Vera)
Aloe vera is a medicinal plant which has outstanding significance from ancient times, it is mentioned at several medical science manuscripts, it has effective healing power and majorly used in beauty products. Aloe vera plant is very hardy and it can survive in difficult weather conditions without stress and hampering its work of removing the toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.
18. Banana (Musa Oriana)
Banana is known as one of the religious plants which is worshiped. Banana is very effective plant and used to fulfill various human needs like food, beauty, shelter as well as purifying the air.
19. Flamingo lily (Anthurium Andraeanum)
Anthurium andraeanum is also known as valentine plant, its beautiful heart shape leaves and flower appear very attractive. Anthurium is easy care plant and does very well in indoors environment. It is found quite effective in removing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia from the air.
20. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Modestum)
Aglaonema is an outstanding indoor plant, it is one of the most commercially cultivated plants and found in almost every house, it also does a great job eliminating formaldehyde. Aglaonema has 150+ extremely elegant hybrid varieties of different shapes, shades and colors. Aglaonema is also known as Chinese evergreen because of its origin in South Asia.
NASA Clean Air Study results have proved very promising and helped the world to identify most efficient house plants. Natural plants not only beautify the interiors design but immensely help to create a better living space.