Sunday, January 18, 2015

Air Quality: House Plants that Can Improve Indoor Air

Fourth and fifth graders in El Paso, Texas, are more likely to have lower grade point averages if heavily exposed to contaminated air at home, according to a new study which is the first to look at kids’ exposure to air toxics—such as benzene, arsenic, lead, mercury, hydrochloric acid, toluene, vinyl bromide, xylenes, and diesel particulate matter—at home and its impact on their school performance.[3]

Scientists suggest that children’s developing bodies are more susceptible to air pollution, which can harm their respiratory systems and brain. They also surmise that air pollution might hamper kids’ grades via at least two ways: 
  1. Illnesses (mostly respiratory)
    • That would make them miss school
  2. Developmental problems
    • Which result from long-term exposure of air toxics
In this article, we suggest that you should grow some of listed house plants here as a way to improve indoor air and help you and especially your loved ones live in a healthier environment.

Common NameScientific NameNotes
Bamboo palmChamaedorea seifritzii

Also known as the reed palm, this small palm thrives in shady indoor spaces and often produces flowers and small berries. It tops the list of plants best for filtering out both benzene and trichloroethylene. They’re also a good choice for placing around furniture that could be off-gassing formaldehyde.

Also consider:
  • Areca palm
  • Lady palm
Chinese evergreenAglaonema modestum

This easy-to-care-for plant can help filter out a variety of air pollutants and begins to remove more toxins as time and exposure continues. Even with low light, it will produce blooms and red berries.
English IvyHedera helix

A study found that the plant reduces airborne fecal-matter particles. It has also been shown to filter out formaldehyde found in some household cleaning products.
Gerbera daisyGerbera jamesonii

This bright, flowering plant is effective at removing trichloroethylene, which you may bring home with your dry cleaning. It’s also good for filtering out the benzene that comes with inks. Add one to your laundry room or bedroom — presuming you can give it lots of light.
Anita Cane Dracaena reflexa 'Anita'

Dracaena Anita is a top choice for beginners with houseplants because the variety is so easy to care for.

While it tolerates a range of conditions, including low light, dracaena Anita grows best in bright light and high humidity.

Grow dracaena Anita inside unless you live in USDA zones 10b or 11. In other zones, you can place your plant outside in the summer provided the temperatures do not get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.  The soil's pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5.

Water dracaena Anita infrequently. Because dracaenas are sensitive to fluoride, using distilled water is better than tap water. Fluoride can cause yellowing leaf tips or margins or dead, scorched areas on the plant's leaves.

As with most houseplants, Dracaena Anita will filter harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air.
Janet CraigDracaena deremensis "Janet Craiq"

The Dracaena Janet Craig Lisa, a relatively new variety, is a little pricey but virtually indestructible. NASA lists the Dracaena Janet Craig among its top ten Clean Air Plants.
MarginataDracaena marqinata

The red edges of this easy dracaena bring a pop of color, and the shrub can grow to reach your ceiling. This plant is best for removing xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline.

Light: Relatively bright light.
Water: Allow the plants to dry between waterings, but not completely. These are more susceptible to root rot, so be very careful never to allow them to sit in water.
Temperature: They thrive between 65ºF and 80ºF. They will suffer if it gets too cold and cannot tolerate freezing.
Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix.
Fertilizer: They have a lower need for fertilizer, so fertilizer lightly at the beginning of spring or twice a year with controlled-release fertilizer.
Mass cane/Corn caneDracaena massanqeana

 It does well in low light conditions and its wide leaves are long and arc gracefully from the stalk.

The temperature requirements for fragrans is a comfortable 75 degrees and the water requirements are low. Dracaenas are one of the plants used in the NASA Clean Air Study and has shown to help remove Formaldehyde.
Mother-in-Law's tongue (or Snake Plant)Sansevieria laurentii

This plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom — it’ll thrive with low light and steamy humid conditions while helping filter out air pollutants.

Snake plant is a heat-loving plant, and thrives best at 55 to 75 degrees F.  It will not tolerate cold or frost, and is only suitable for outdoor growing in USDA zone 10+. Water sparingly no more than once or twice per week, or your snake plant will rot.
Pot mumChrysanthemum morifolium

The colorful flowers of a mum can do a lot more than brighten a home office or living room; the blooms also help filter out benzene, which is commonly found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent. This plant loves bright light, and to encourage buds to open, you’ll need to find a spot near an open window with direct sunlight.

In general, the plant is best fertilized once a month and watered two to three times a week depending on climate.
Peace lilySpathyphvllum "Mauna Loa"

Shade and weekly watering are all the peace lily needs to survive and produce blooms. It topped NASA’s list for removing all three of most common VOCs — formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene.
WarneckeiDracaena deremensis "Warneckei"

Combat pollutants associated with varnishes and oils with this dracaena. The Warneckii grows inside easily, even without direct sunlight. With striped leaves forming clusters atop a thin stem, this houseplant can be striking, especially if it reaches its potential height of 12 feet.
FicusFicus benjamina

It does best in bright, sunny conditions but will also tolerate considerable shade. It requires a moderate amount of watering in summer, and only enough to keep it from drying out in the winter.

A ficus in your living room can help filter out pollutants that typically accompany carpeting and furniture such as formaldehyde,  benzene and trichloroethylene. Caring for a ficus can be tricky, but once you get the watering and light conditions right, they will last a  long time.
Golden pothosScindapsus aures

Another powerful plant for tackling formaldehyde, this fast-growing vine will create a cascade of green from a hanging basket. Consider it for your garage since car exhaust is filled with formaldehyde. (Bonus: Golden pothos, also know as devil’s ivy, stays green even when kept in the dark.)

Warning: If you have pets, you should avoid them because they can be deadly for pets.[13]
AzaleaRhododendron simsii

Bring this beautiful flowering shrub into your home to combat formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. Because azaleas do best in cool areas around 60 to 65 degrees, they’re a good option for improving indoor air in your basement if you can find a bright spot.
Heart leaf philodendronPhilodendron oxycardium

This climbing vine plant isn’t a good option if you have kids or pets — it's toxic when eaten, but it's a workhorse for removing all kinds of VOCs. Philodendrons are particularly good at battling formaldehyde from sources like particleboard.
Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum

Spider plants have also been shown to reduce indoor air pollution in the form of formaldehyde, and approximately 70 plants would neutralize formaldehyde production in a representative (ca. 160 m2) energy-efficient house.


  1. 15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality
  2. A Study of Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement
  3. Dirty Air Correlates with Lower Grades in Texas Schoolchildren
  4. KArma Video
  5. Living near nature linked to longer lives, says study
    • Researchers found that women in greener areas had a 41% lower death rate for kidney disease, a 34% lower death rate for respiratory disease and a 13% lower death rate for cancer than those living in areas with less greenery.
    • The results of the study aren't suggesting that people need to move far out to the country in order to live a long life, simply that any increased vegetation seems to be linked to lower mortality.
  6. Your Favorite Housewares Are Spewing Poison Dust Inside Your Home
    • Furniture, bath curtains, and computers generate at least 45 toxic chemicals that may be endangering you and your family.
  7. Every country has terrible air pollution, but these are the world’s worst
  8. Air pollution leads to more drug resistant bacteria, study finds
  9. Can Smog Raise Breast Cancer Risk?
    • Women who live where the air is thick with pollutants may be more likely to have dense breasts, a known risk factor for breast cancer, new research suggests.
  10. All Forms of Air Pollution Raise Your Dementia Risk
  11. Drug-Free Strategies to Lower Your Blood Pressure
    • Air pollution has been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure to the same degree as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30.
  12. Research Concludes That Houseplants Are More Vital To A Healthy Environment Than Ever
    • “Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them [and] inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies […] we must do something about VOCs in indoor
  13. 6 Common Indoor Plants That Are Highly Toxic
  14. These are the world's most polluted cities
  15. Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women

No comments:

Post a Comment