Top Plants for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
- Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
- Dracaena (Dracaena sp.). Especially Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata), Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’), Warneckii (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’), and Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana’)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Ficus, or Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Golden Pothos (Epipiremnum aureum)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
- Philodendron (Philodendron sp), particularly Heartleaf (Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’), Selloum (Philodendron selloum), and Elephant Ear Philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
- Pot Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- Snake Plant, or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
For best results, have at least one six-inch plant for every 100 square feet.
Other Benefits of Indoor Plants
Of course, a home or office building cannot exactly mimic the controlled conditions of a research lab, but it is clear that having plenty of healthy houseplants leads to a healthier home.
In addition to processing carbon dioxide and harmful chemicals, houseplants improve indoor air quality by:
- Helping to maintain humidity levels: Dry indoor air is blamed for a host of respiratory problems, particularly in the winter, and plants emit water vapor during transpiration.
- Producing negative ions: Plant leaves produce negative ions, similar to many air purifying machines. Negative ions attach themselves to (and effectively remove) particles such as dust, mold spores, bacteria, and allergens. The presence of negative ions is credited for increasing psychological health, productivity, and overall well-being.
The Other Side of the Debate
Some researchers, including the EPA Indoor Air Division, remain unconvinced that houseplants are the answer to cleaning indoor air. The reasons for their doubt include:
- Houseplants should not be your only defense against indoor air pollution. Instead, pollution should be eliminated at its source by reducing the amount of synthetic material in your home or office, and by making sure buildings are well ventilated.
- The average home or office building is different from a controlled research lab, so it’s difficult to determine if the results translate to the real world, or how many plants are needed to get the same effect. While no one disagrees that plants process chemicals in the air, their exact rates and effectiveness are hard to prove outside the lab setting. Some critics believe it might take hundreds of houseplants to get the same results as the NASA/ALCA study.
- Too many plants can raise humidity levels too high, which could lead to mold and bacteria growth throughout the building. Indoor humidity levels should stay between 35%-65% to avoid turning your home into a “greenhouse.”
- Moist soil breeds bacteria, mold, and mildew. Don’t overwater your plants, and help control mold by “mulching” your houseplants with a one-inch layer of fine gravel or other porous material.
- Clean the Air in Your Home with House Plants (article)
- A Guide to Indoor Air Quality (EPA)
- How to Grow Fresh Air (book by Dr. B.C. Wolverton)