Air quality has been getting worse in many states and cities. And there are many reasons for it – be it vehicular pollution, construction, industries, etc.
While there is hardly anything we can do when we have to step out from home, there are some measures we can take while being indoors.
For the past few years, I have been adding indoor plants to my living room and my office desk.
I have also done extensive research on the best air purifying plants (and have some of these in my living room right now).
When I was researching for good air purifying plants for my home, I noticed that most of the articles were based on a NASA study.
So I put on my researcher’s hat and got to work.
Now before I tell you about the air purifying indoor plants, let me first tell you the different pollutants that you are likely to find indoors.
What makes the Indoor Air Polluted?
There are many different gases and organic compounds that are constantly present in the indoor air. Continuous exposure to these compounds (even in low quantities) can adversely impact health and well-being.
Here are the common ones:
It is an organic compound that can be found in many household products such as plywood, particle-board, building materials, glues, paints, paper products, cosmetics, etc.
Exposure to formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.
Benzene is an organic compound that is released in the air from building materials, furniture, plywood, particle-board. LPG cooking gas also adds to benzene levels in the air. Another source of benzene could be photocopying machines or printers (which are quite common in offices and even homes).
If you smoke inside your home, then it can be one of the biggest contributors to benzene in the indoor air.
Exposure to benzene can lead to headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and nausea.
Carbon Mono Oxide
Carbon mono oxide is a gas.
Cigarette smoke and smoke from automobiles are the major causes of carbon mono-oxide in the indoor air. Your house is more likely to have these if you stay close to a busy street with vehicles or you regularly smoke inside your house.
Exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to fatigue, dizziness, irregular breathing, nausea, headache, and coughing.
Toluene is an organic compound that is released into the air by building materials, chemical cleaners, polishes, adhesive products, oils etc.
Exposure to toluene has been shown to cause eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as headaches, dizziness, and feelings of intoxication. It also has neurological effects and can impact performance and short-term memory.
Xylene is a volatile organic compound that is found in paints, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, gasoline, and permanent magic markers.
Exposure to Xylene can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty in breathing, and dizziness.
Ammonia is an odorless gas that can be released by construction material. Humans also release ammonia during urination.
Exposure to concentrated levels of ammonia can cause headaches, nausea and burning sensation in eyes, nose, throat and skin.
Trichloroethylene is a Volatile Organic Compound that can be released by varnishes, lubricants, adhesives, typewriter correction fluid, paint removers, and chemical cleaners.
Exposure to trichloroethylene can result in effects to the immune and reproductive systems, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and may affect fetal development during pregnancy.
Since the above VOCs and gases are often present in our homes and offices, using indoor plants that remove these from the air can have a significant positive impact on our health.
10 Best Indoor Air Purifying Plants
Here I am listing the top 10 air purifying plants that that remove the above-mentioned pollutants (and you can easily keep these in your homes and offices).
I have also listed useful details about each indoor plant that may help you make a decision.
Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)
Money plant is known by many different names – Devils Ivy, Goldon Pothos, or Scindapsus Aureus.
It’s called money plant as it is associated with good luck and prosperity.
It has heart-shaped leaves that are green in color with some golden tinge to it.
These are mostly used as indoor plants and can be planted in soil as well as water. One of the great things about Money Plant is that you can cut a part of an existing money plant and put it in water (or soil) and it will start growing there.
If you’re growing it in water, you need to change the water every week.
Money Plant is a great choice for the living room and bedroom. It is one of those plants that continue to give out oxygen at night, which makes it suitable for bedrooms too.
Money plant help removes many Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the air such as formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, and carbon monoxide.
These VOCs are often a result of off-gassing from carpets, curtains, furniture, and paint.
Peace Lily Plant
Peace Lily is also known as the Cobra Plant.
This is because of the white flower of the Peace Lily plant that looks like the hood of a cobra. It is a sturdy plant with pointed dark green oval leaves and white flowers.
Peace Lily can grow in low-light and is often used as an indoor plant in homes and offices.
It has been shown to effectively remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethane from the air.
Snake Plant is also known as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue plant.
Snake plant effectively removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air.
It is also known as the bedroom plant as it continues to give out oxygen during the night (just like Money Plant). It is also quite low maintenance and it wouldn’t die if you forget to water it for a few days (even weeks).
It acts as a natural humidifier which helps fighting dry eyes/skin.
Since it has wide fleshy leaves, it also helps in reducing noise pollution by absorbing sound waves.
Areca Palm Plant
Areca Palm plant is also known as the yellow butterfly palm and golden cane palm.
According to NASA’s research, the areca palm tree has the 8th highest removal rate for formaldehyde and it is the best air-purifying plant.
It is also an excellent natural humidifier. A 6 feet tall plant can transpire ~1 liter of water in 24 hours.
It removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.
Rubber plant is also known as Ficus Elastica and Rubber Bush Plant.
It is highly efficient in removing formaldehyde from the air. It also removes bio-effluents from the air.
It has been observed that as time passes, rubber plant get more efficient in purifying the air and cleaning the VOCs.
Note that Rubber plant is toxic to pets.
Aloe Vera Plant
Aloe Vera is a medicinal plant that can be found in many households. The gel in the leaves can be used to treat cuts and burns, as well as to moisturize the skin.
Apart from its medicinal benefits, Aloe Vera is also very effective in purifying the air (especially Benzene which is found in paints and chemical cleaners).
Apart from Benzene, it also removes formaldehyde – which is released by off-gassing from carpets, curtains, and furniture.
Aloe Vera plants can also be kept in the bedroom as it continues to give out oxygen and absorb carbon-di-oxide during the night.
Weeping Fig Plant
It is also known as Ficus Benjamina.
According to the NASA study, this indoor plant is effective in removing pollutants that get generated from carpets, curtains, and furniture – i.e., formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
Note that Weeping fig is poisonous for pets.
English Ivy Plant
English Ivy is also known as European Ivy and Hedera Helix.
It effectively removes benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.
It also reduces air-borne fecal matter particles and is good for people with asthma problems.
Some studies have also shown that it helps reduce molds in the house.
Chinese Evergreen Plant
Chinese Evergreen plant has a patterned look and can add to the decor of your house.
It removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.
The Spider plant is also called Chlorophytum comosum.
It’s a flowering herb and can produce white flowers.
According to the NASA clean air study, it removes formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.
It doesn’t need a lot of care and is often used in living rooms and offices.
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