Air pollution is a concern in the home as much as at a busy, trafficked intersection. Indoors, our air is exposed to an array of chemicals, fumes, and some "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs) commonly released by solvents, paints, adhesives, and other innocuous household items that we use without knowing of their risks. Formaldehyde, used in paint, is a common culprit. These substances can be harmful to our health, and they can cause allergies, headaches, and respiratory problems, among others. In fact, some of these substances are known carcinogens.
These houseplants, according to NASA, can purify the air of VCOs and other pollutants and odors. Along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, NASA conducted a study in the '80s that found that these specimens filter out harmful chemicals, which was especially useful in enclosed space facilities. Within the home, they work just as well. Look for these plants to improve the quality of air in your living spaces:
Iconic and popular in Japanese culture, these delicate blooms can add a soft touch to your interiors with their pastel hues. As air filters, they're a proven powerhouse. They're useful against ammonia, as well as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which are VCOs used in a variety of paints, varnishes, adhesives, solvents and cleaning solutions, plastics, and synthetic fibers, among others. Water frequently, and place under direct sunlight to encourage blooms.
Its long, sharp, sword-like leaves have earned it the clever moniker mother-in-law's tongue. A succulent, this specimen is almost impossible to kill, able as it is to survive under near-neglect. However, best to let it thrive under low light and humid conditions, like in the bathroom, where it can do its due work filtering out nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde from the air.
Its bushy riot of leaves makes this small tree suitable for roomy corners of the home. It's proven to filter the air of common pollutants, among them formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Place under bright light, and water moderately.
NASA ranked this bright, leafy houseplant among the top three best suited for filtering formaldehyde from enclosed spaces. It also works great against carbon monoxide. Opt to grow it in your garage, in a hanging pot, where it can absorb these harmful compounds from your car's exhaust fumes. The plant will need only partial light, and it will stay green even when kept in the dark.
For more air-purifying houseplants, check out Part 3 or review Part 1
of this series.