Houseplants are a punctuation mark for your décor, adding a natural touch to your home. They have few needs other than watering, pruning and a dose of fertilizer from time to time.
But decorative plants are more than just a pretty face. They actually help clear the air in your home.
A 2009 study by a research team from Pennsylvania State University looked at how certain houseplants can reduce ozone levels in a simulated indoor environment. For this study the team used three common indoor varieties: snake plant, spider plant and golden pothos.
From the Science Daily website: “The researchers set up chambers in a greenhouse equipped with a charcoal filtration air supply system in which ozone concentrations could be measured and regulated. Ozone was then injected into the chambers, and the chambers were checked every 5 to 6 minutes. The data revealed that ozone depletion rates were higher in the chambers that contained plants than in the control chambers without plants, but there were no differences in effectiveness among the three plants.”
The authors concluded, “Because indoor air pollution extensively affects developing countries, using plants as a mitigation method could serve as a cost-effective tool in the developing world where expensive pollution mitigation technology may not be economically feasible.”
NASA has studied ways to purify the air in space stations. The space agency recommendeds using “15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house,” according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
The website Mother Nature Network has a slide show of “15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality.” On the list are snake plants, spider plants and golden pothos.
But other plants, including Aloe (helps clear formaldehyde and benzene), Red-edged dracaena ( combats xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline) and Bamboo palm (“It tops the list of plants best for filtering out both benzene and trichloroethylene.”)
So, head down to your favorite nursery or big-box story and pick up a few plants for your house.
You’ll breathe easier.