12 houseplants that clean the air

Dracena have been shown to remove pollutants from indoor air. Photo by Kathie Rowell

Dracena have been shown to remove pollutants from indoor air. Photo by Kathie Rowell

Did you know that indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air? That’s because many building materials, cleaning products, furnishings and office equipment emit gases or particles into the atmosphere.

Golden pothos.

Golden pothos.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says indoor pollutant levels can be two to five times – and as much as 100 times – higher than outdoor levels and ranks indoor pollutants as one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

Those of us who live and work in drafty older homes or buildings have less to worry about than those who live or work in newer, energy-efficient homes and offices.  That’s because new buildings are built tighter and largely constructed with man-made materials and finishes that are known to “off-gas” benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

But there’s a low-tech way to remove some of these pollutants from the air – and beautify your home or office at the same time.

Grow houseplants.

Red-edged dracena.

Red-edged dracena.

In the 1980s, NASA spent two years studying the effects of houseplants on indoor air quality as a way to purify the air on its space facilities.

If it works in space, surely it will work on earth, right?

Here’s a list 12 of the plants NASA found to be effective. You probably already have one or more of them, because they’re easy to find and easy to grow. Plan to use one potted plant per 100 square feet of living space.

  • Aloe vera
  • Bamboo or reed palm
  • Chinese evergreen
  • English ivy
  • Golden pothos
  • Heartleaf philodendron
  • Peace lily
  • Snake plant
  • Spider plant
  • Red-edged dracena
  • Warneck dracena
  • Weeping fig

Now, aren’t you breathing easier?

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