Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Clean Your Indoor Air with Houseplants

1/25/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: indoor air, clean, houseplants, toxins, plants

Do they or don’t they? Only the scientists know for sure whether houseplants can remove toxins from indoor air—and the research is inconsistent.

english ivy
English Ivy is one of the top five plants for removing VOCs from the air. Photo By Mirona Iliescu/Courtesy Flickr. 

Decades ago, NASA published a study claiming that common house plants could remove toxins from indoor air. Those studies were later disproven, but references to plants’ air-scrubbing potential have been rife ever since. At Natural Home, we’ve held off on reporting any of this until the science could prove it.

Now, a study from the University of Georgia Department of Horticulture shows that some indoor house plants can remove volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the air. VOCs have been linked to cancer and a variety of health problems that the World Health Organization says kill more than 1.6 million people each year.

Researchers tested 28 common indoor plants for their ability to remove five VOCs: benzene, TCE, toluene, octane and alpha-pinene. The VOCs studied in this case come from a variety of sources, including cleaning products, paints, adhesives, building materials, insecticides, plastics and even tap water. Benzene has been labeled as a known carcinogen, and TCE is considered a possible carcinogen.

The purple waffle plant, English ivy, the variegated wax plant, the Asparagus fern and the purple heart plant removed the most VOCs. The study concluded that common house plants have the potential to significantly improve indoor air quality, so why not bring in a few? Living with plants is a sure-fire way to boost your mood, freshen up your décor—and possibly improve your health.

What houseplants do you have?

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.