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How to Use Plants as Air Purifiers

Updated on October 26, 2012
Some plants make great air purifiers!
Some plants make great air purifiers!

Plants as Air Purifers

Recent research by NASA and others have demonstrated that plants make good air purifiers. It is common sense really. Plants are using up gases and putting off other gases all the time. For example, plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) and offgas oxygen. Many pristine forest areas have superior air quality because of the natural participation plants and trees have in cleaning the air. But as we have advanced technologically, we seem to have forgotten what plants are capable of until very expensive studies by scientists were conducted to demonstrate to us that "Yea, plants do purify the air." This discovery has many implications you need to consider in regards to your home and overall health.

Plants that Have Been Studied by NASA and What they Purify

NASA really only studied a very limited number of plants. These plants are scattered all over the internet as the plants of choice for air purification. They include:

  • English Ivy, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Peace Lily, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Bamboo Palm, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Gerbera Daisy, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene,
  • Marginata, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Warneckei, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene,
  • Mass Cane/Corn Cane, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE),
  • Chinese Evergreen, effective against benzene, formaldehyde
  • Mother in Law's Tongue, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Janet Craig, effective against Trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene, formaldehyde
  • Pot Mum, effective against benzene

Scientists tested these plants against specific gases that are common pollutants in the air. These are pollutants that are introduced by toxic chemicals that we use for cleaning and that are also produced as waste byproducts of the way we live. The real secret is out, plants help keep our air clean. But in our industrialized world, plants also have their limitations. It takes a lot of plants to clean a small area. It requires a variety of plants to address all aspects of air purification. These are issues you must consider when looking at making plants part of your strategic solutions for clean air.

Ways to Use Plants in Air Purification

Most people do not have the luxury of turning their homes into a green house. It can take up space and expense they do not have. In their studies, NASA suggested person would need 15-18 large plants to clean an 1800 square foot area. But this changes, not only based on the size of the home, but also the number of people living in the home. The more contributing pollution you have, the more plants you need. This in many cases is simply an impractical solution in our fast paced results oriented culture. What air purifiers do offer is an expansion on the capabilities of electronic air purification systems. These air purifier systems, while being able to remove most gases from the air, have limitations. Plants can be used to target specific gases commonly missed by air purifiers. Some of the technology in air purifiers (like ozone and PCO) is plant friendly and plants have been known to grow towards air purifiers because they like it so much. This means that these types of air purifiers and air purifying plants have a sort of mutually beneficial relationship in protecting the air and the plants.

When You have limited Access to Known Plant Purifiers

Depending where you are in the world, you may find you do not have access to some of the most commonly known air purifying plants. The great news is, they are not the only ones. They are the only ones that have generally speaking been tested in laboratories. It doesn't mean you can't do your own testing on plants to figure out which ones remove the air pollutants you are currently dealing with. With a little creativity and initiative, you can develop your own list of plants for purifying the air in your home.


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      Marchelle 3 years ago

      Plants are good, but how many are needed to clean the air in the whole house? At this site you will find Items that will imrovpe the indoor air quality. Air quality is needed in all indoors and also vehicles. Hope you find this helpfull.