From the Desk of Ed Hume: Houseplants That Purify the Air

November 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

When it begins to get rainy or cold outside, we begin spending more time inside.  Consequently, we become more exposed to some serious pollutants, such as trichloroetheylene, benzene, and even formaldehyde.  These are the three big ones, but there are others as well.  So what’s the solution?

Did you know that some houseplants do a wonderful job of actually purifying the air in the home, the office, the supermarket, the bank, or wherever you live and work?
How do we know this? Who would make such a statement? Is this just another wild declaration made by some extremist?


The answer is we know it because of research that was done by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), and NO, they are not extremists.  Remember, NASA is putting spacecrafts into the outer atmosphere, so they want to protect their astronauts from exposure to any possible pollutants.  In addition to that, they found in their debriefing sessions that the astronauts missed not having living things in their environment.  So, what better solution then try houseplants…and it worked!

On a side note, NASA and Michigan State University have as an ongoing research project an elaborate experimental display that you can visit at Disney World.  In this educational exhibit, they show how produce can be grown in some unusual, space-saving ways.  Believe me, it’s worth your time to sign up and take their boat tour.  But that’s a topic for another time.

Back to purifying the air in your home.  In a more in-depth article on our web site, I have listed the sources of many of these pollutants.  In the limited space here, I’d like to discuss the plants that are most effective in removing the main three pollutants from the air in your home as according to the NASA/ALCA studies.

•Gerbera daisy, Dracaena marginata, Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Dracaena “Janet Craig’ and the Bamboo palm are, in that order, the five most effective plants at removing Trichloroethylene concentrations from the air.

•Gerbera daisy, pot mums, Peace lily, Bamboo palm, Dracaena warneckei, English ivy, and Mother-in-law’s tongue are the seven top houseplants for removing Benzene concentrations in the air.

•Bamboo palm, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena marginata, Peace lily, green Spider plant, and golden Pathos are seven of the top plants for removing concentrations of Formaldehyde in the air.

It is estimated that fifteen-to-twenty of these particular houseplants can purify the interior of a typical 1,800 square foot house!

In the weeks ahead I will be discussing some of what I think are the easiest and best ways to care for houseplants in your home.  Let me tell you, together I think we can find it is easier than you think.


Ed Hume


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Podcast Mondays: Houseplants That Purify the Air Clip of the Week: Houseplants That Purify the Air

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