We all appreciate our beloved houseplants for their attractiveness, warmth and charm but they offer more than these superficial traits– they also improve the air we breathe. With an ongoing interest in improving air-quality in sealed environments, NASA has been researching our symbiotic relationship with plants for decades and has concluded “Both plant leaves and roots remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from inside tightly sealed buildings and indoor environments.” This is especially meaningful as studies show that interior air can have three to five times more pollutants than the air outside.
VOCs are a main category of air pollutants and include things like acetone, benzene and formaldehyde which are emitted as gases and can cause short- and long-term health effects. They are invisible to the eye and come from common things like furniture, copiers and printers, cleaning supplies and dry-cleaned clothes. Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead to educed productivity, dizziness, asthma, and allergies. In this particular study, scientists monitored VOC concentrations with and without different types of plants in a sealed chamber over a 12-hour period. For each plant they measured the VOCs it absorbed, how quickly it removed them, and the amount of VOCs removed altogether.
These are the plants they found to be the most effective:
Caribbean Tree Cactus
The study showed that each of these plants removed acetone with the dracaena absorbing the most, around 94%; the bromeliad removed over 80% of six of the eight VOCs tested; and the jade plant absorbed the most toluene. NASA also stated these levels of VOCs don’t harm the plants and it hopes the study serves as a reminder to respect these green leafy organisms that work so tirelessly on our behalf. Try adding one or more of these plant species to your collection to enhance the scenic value of your home and contribute to your air quality as well 😊.