It has long been known that houseplants are an excellent addition to cleaning the air in a house, especially for removing toxic gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The concept is based on a NASA study published in 1989. But a recent study seems to show that houseplants do not purify the air inside your home. Fact or fiction?
- Indoor plants do not purify the air
- Plants that contribute to air quality
Indoor plants do not purify the air
The original houseplant research was aimed at space exploration. It aimed to determine how pot plants can remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from a space capsule. They studied the amount of VOCs removed from the chamber in a given time on houseplants placed in a sealed chamber. The result was remarkable: they concluded that about 70 % of the toxic compounds were removed by these plants in one day.
The further research on indoor plants carried out by ADEME looked at the actual application of potted plants in residential buildings for VOC removal. The study revealed that the chemical purification process per plant is so irrelevant that10 to 1000 plants per square metre are needed to meet the standard for VOC removal through building ventilation. In other words, if you want to improve your health with indoor plants, you will need about 1000 plants for a 30 m² space, because plants can only generate 0.4 m3 of clean air per minute at a rate of one air exchange per hour...
Houseplants are very useful for improving our mood and energy. In addition, they are decorative and give off a green atmosphere. However, they are not, in terms of VOC and virus removalThey are not effective. If you want to eliminate air pollution, you can open your windows and doors to let fresh air in. Ventilation is the simplest way to improve indoor air quality. When options are limited, you can use an air purifier to remove VOCs and other airborne pollutants.
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Plants that contribute to air quality
Plants are not effective enough to clean up the air in the home, but they are a good addition. To significantly improve your indoor air, we recommend this list of the 7 best depolluting plants.
1. English ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy is able to absorb chemicals from the air. It can remove TCE, formaldehyde and benzene from the air. It grows indoors with a good light source and does not require much watering. It is easy to care for and is toxic to pets.
2. Snake plant (Sansevieria laurentii)
The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law's tongue, is a decorative houseplant that removes various volatile organic compounds from the air. It is hardy and can survive with a low light source (and less watering). The snake plant purifies the air by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen during the night. It also absorbs TCE, formaldehyde and benzene. It is very easy to care for and you can keep it near the high chemical concentration area of your home. The snake plant is toxic to pets.
3. Chinese conifer (Aglaonema modestum)
The specific variety of Chinese conifers, also known as the 'Silver Queen' for the silvery hues of its leaves, is another plant that eliminates toxins. It can survive with little light and less care, which is ideal for indoor growing. Silver Queen is able to remove various VOCs from indoor air. It mainly removes formaldehyde and benzene. The plant itself is toxic to pets.
4. Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis)
Janet Craig is another houseplant that survives low light and has been popular among houseplants for a long time. This plant was examined in the NASA study. It does not like wet soil, so the soil must be well drained. It can reach a height of 3 m. All varieties of Dracaena are poisonous to pets.
5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The peace lily is an amazing houseplant that breaks down multiple chemical toxins (including ammonia). It is also known as white veils and for its beautiful flowering. It needs moist soil and medium light to survive. There are many varieties, including the Mauna Loa variety used by NASA in their study. The Peace Lily is toxic to pets.
6. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
The bamboo palm is an evergreen houseplant that can remove toxins (including formaldehyde), thanks to its large leaf surface. It grows in both sun and shade. The only constraint is that the soil must remain moist at all times. Bamboo palm leaves are safe for pets.
7. Green spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum)
The spider plant is an undemanding houseplant with beautiful striped leaves. It absorbs chemicals, including formaldehyde, at a high rate. The plant is easy to care for and is suitable for both low and bright light. There are many varieties, the green spider being the most common. The green spider is not toxic to pets.