Plants are natural air purifiers. NASA conducted a whole lot of studies on plants as a means to purify the air in space stations and their findings can be applied to our homes.
The air in our environment is full of toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene (known as ‘volatile organic compounds’) which are released from many household items such carpets, furniture, some wood, plastic, computers and paint. What is scary though is that the concentration of this pollution is actually higher indoors than it is outside!
BUT…. many plants have an amazing ability to pull these chemicals along with airborne moulds and bacteria from the air and transport them into their roots and soil to be broken down by microorganisms. The air pollutants are then converted into new plant tissue!
Studies show that depending on the plant, up to 80-90% of air pollution can be removed. Some of the best plants for the job include English Ivy, Devil’s Ivy (pothos plant) and the Peace Lily.
Plants breathe the opposite to us (which is handy!) – they take in carbon dioxide and through photosynthesis release fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) is one of the few plants that will continue release oxygen at night time as well, so is the perfect choice to have in the bedroom for improved sleep quality.
Plants generally improve mental well-being – the colour green relaxes the nervous system, helping to alleviate stress. Studies have shown that plants improve brain function, and enhance concentration and productivity.
Indoor plants provide a way to interact with nature especially if you do not have a garden or live in an apartment so its time to ditch any dust-collecting fake plants, get yourself to a nursery and and fill your home with some beautiful air purifying plants. Please remember that some indoor plants can be toxic to animals so if you are concerned, check which species are safe first.
Reference: Wolverton, B.C. et al. Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Final Report – September 1989. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.