Removal of Harmful Pollutants: Indoor air can be contaminated with various pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, as well as airborne toxins like trichloroethylene and ammonia. Plants act as natural air purifiers by absorbing these pollutants through tiny openings called stomata on their leaves and breaking them down into harmless byproducts. For example, snake plants are known for their ability to remove toxins like formaldehyde, which can be found in household products, while peace lilies are effective in reducing levels of benzene and trichloroethylene.
Improved Indoor Air Quality: When plants remove pollutants from the air, they help improve the overall air quality indoors. This is particularly beneficial for people who spend a significant amount of time indoors, such as office workers or individuals with respiratory conditions. Cleaner air can reduce the risk of respiratory issues, allergies, and other health problems associated with poor indoor air quality. Breathing in cleaner air can also enhance cognitive function, mood, and overall well-being.
Increased Humidity: Plants release moisture through a process called transpiration, which helps increase humidity levels in the surrounding air. This can be particularly beneficial in dry indoor environments, such as during winter or in buildings with central heating or air conditioning. Optimal humidity levels promote respiratory health, prevent dry skin, and reduce the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria.
Noise Reduction: In addition to their air purifying properties, plants can also help absorb and reduce noise levels in indoor spaces. The leaves and branches of plants act as natural sound absorbers, helping to dampen and soften noises. This can be especially beneficial in busy environments, offices, or apartments located in urban areas where noise pollution is a concern.
Aesthetically Pleasing and Biophilic Design: Incorporating plants into interior spaces not only provides air purification benefits but also adds beauty and a sense of tranquility. The presence of plants has been shown to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Biophilic design, which integrates natural elements into indoor environments, has become increasingly popular due to its positive effects on mental well-being and overall satisfaction with the space.
Sustainable and Cost-Effective: Air purification using plants is an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach. Unlike mechanical air purifiers, plants do not require electricity to operate and maintain. They are also relatively low-cost, making them an affordable option for improving indoor air quality in homes, offices, and public spaces.
It is important to note that while plants can contribute to air purification, they should not be relied upon as the sole method of maintaining good indoor air quality. Regular cleaning, proper ventilation, and minimizing the use of pollutants are equally important for creating a healthy indoor environment.
During the 2010s NASA conducted a study called the Clean Air Study to identify plants that are effective in purifying indoor air by removing various pollutants. Here is a list of some of the best houseplants for air purification, based on data from NASA:
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
- Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)
- Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
- Dracaena (Dracaena spp.)
These plants have been found to effectively remove pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia from the indoor air. They are relatively easy to care for and can thrive in various indoor conditions.
Remember, while these plants can help improve indoor air quality, they should not be relied upon as the sole solution for air purification. Adequate ventilation, minimizing the use of chemical products, and keeping your living space clean are also important factors in maintaining good air quality indoors.