5 Houseplants That Filter Indoor Air Pollution

Asbestos // November 24, 2015

Many people don’t realize that the air indoors is often more polluted than the air outside, which can pose a great threat to lung and overall health. Essentially, stagnate indoor air contains built-up pollutants in amounts greater than what humans should be breathing in. What’s known as “sick building syndrome” leads to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye, ear, and nose irritation.

Even more alarming, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 4 million people die prematurely each year from diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer, which are caused by exposure to household air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, and more. Asbestos is another potential indoor pollutant that, if inhaled, can lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma.

Sources of Household Air Pollution

There are a number of indoor sources that cause problems with the indoor air quality (IAQ). According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor sources of pollutants can include the following:

  • Fuel-burning appliances
  • Tobacco and cigarettes
  • Building materials and/or furnishings such as:
    • Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
    • New flooring, carpet, or upholstery
    • Pressed wood products like cabinets or other furniture
  • Household cleaning products and air fresheners
  • Central air, heating, and humidification systems
  • Excess moisture

The specific pollutants include:

  • Asbestos
  • Biological pollutants
  • Pollen
  • Bacteria
  • Molds
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Nitrogen Oxide
  • Pesticides
  • Radon
  • Respirable particles
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

A Green Solution

People spend more than 90% of their time indoors, so the air inside matters. In addition to proper ventilation and maintenance of potentially hazardous products, appliances, and materials, one easy, proven, affordable, and attractive way to improve the air quality in your home is by decorating with the right kinds of plants.

In a study done by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, several plants were found to be effective at filtering out common VOCs. The plants absorb some of the particles from the air when they consume carbon dioxide, and then processes those particles into oxygen. Microbes in the potting soil are also great air cleaners.

Additional studies have been published in the Journal of American Society of Horticultural science that prove the science behind it all. Some of the top houseplants that improve air quality include:

Aloe Vera

This easy-to-care for succulent has been proven to help lessen the amount of formaldehyde and benzene, two byproducts of chemical cleaners, paints, personal care products, tissues, and more.

Spider Plant

Another hard-to-kill option, the spider plant also fights against formaldehyde and benzene. Additionally, spider plants filter carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent found in rubber and leather products.

Peace Lily

This small but mighty plant removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Peace lilies do contribute some pollen, so be mindful if you have allergies.

Snake Plant

This is a great option for the bathroom, since it does well in low light and humid environments. The snake plant is one of the best options for filtering out formaldehyde.

Garden Mum

For a vibrant pop of color and air cleaning superhero in one, the garden mum is a great option. It removes ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the air inside.
For more information about keeping the air inside your home pollution-free, visit the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air at Home resource center.