There are numerous benefits to using houseplants to filter the air inside your home or office. Many people feel that if they are using an air purifier than the use of houseplants is not needed. But research has shown that even if you use a HEPA air filter or an ionic air purifier, there is a lot of difference that can still be made by many common house plants, which act as a living air purifier. With the exception of an activated carbon filter, common indoor air filters, such as HEPA or ionizers, will totally miss the toxic household gases, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and volatile organic gases (VOG). Working in a way similar to an activated carbon filter, living house plants remove polluting gases from the indoor air by absorbing them.
The air purifying effect of the green houseplants was studied extensively by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This was done by NASA when they were working to develop life support systems for space stations. Their research has shown that many common house plants can clean air from toxic gases, such as formaldehyde, benzene, volatile organic gases (VOG), and many others.
As only one of many examples of air purifying plants the spider plant and golden pothos clean air from carbon monoxide. In addition formaldehyde, which is emitted everywhere by plastic items, particle board or pressed wood furniture, carpeting and construction materials, can be reduced by ficus, aloe vera, fig trees, spider plant, and elephant ear philodendron. Dangerous and potentially life threatening volatile organic gases can be absorbed by the banana tree.
One of the other major benefits of houseplants is that they can work in virtually any space. House plants are particularly effective as a living air purifier in enclosed spaces, such as some kitchens. Houseplants can also fit into spaces that many times will not accommodate an air purifier. In addition houseplants are a cost-effective solution while air purifiers can be pricey especially for the consumer who may need more than one. Consulting a local nursery can help you determine the best plants for your area and allow you to purchase houseplants at an affordable rate.
It is important to note though that not all plants are good as indoor air cleaners. Many house plants can actually be toxic themselves. Some examples of toxic plants include: nightshade, creeping charlie, foxglove, oleander, sago plant, privet, rhododendron, umbrella plant, ivy, ripple ivy, sweet pea, vinca, spider mum, and poinsettia. It is crucial that pets and young children are kept away from these plants as they can be fatal if consumed. Consumers looking for houseplants that purify air would do well to steer away from the above named plants.
One of the unintended benefits of houseplants is that they can include a wide range of psychological and physiological effects. Studies that have been conducted on plant/people interactions have provided overwhelming evidence that plants do indeed have a measurable beneficial effect on people and the spaces they inhabit even beyond their air purifying abilities. Plants can not only add beauty to a room, but also make it a friendly and inviting place to live or work. Plants may symbolize friendship and appear to have a calming, spiritual effect on most people. This perhaps explains why plants often play such an important role in human events such as weddings, funerals, holidays, hospital stays and birthdays.
The trend of using houseplants for decoration and air purifying has moved into the corporate and retail world as well. Corporations have begun to install interior landscaping to increase worker productivity and decrease absenteeism. Elite hotels, restaurants and other businesses use plants to help entice customers into their establishments. We can all breathe easier realizing the many benefits of houseplants!