Four House Plants with Air-Purifying Potential

According to an article in Time, indoor air pollution, often caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from paints, furniture, and cleaning supplies, among other sources, can lead to dizziness and headaches, and may contribute to long-term health problems like asthma.

So, how should you go about purifying your home’s air? Installing ventilation devices can reduce exposure to VOCs, but there may be a cheaper alternative: a study by researchers at the State University of New York at Oswego indicates that certain common house plants don’t just absorb carbon dioxide, they also absorb VOCs. The researchers also found that various plants absorb chemicals differently. This suggests that having a mix of these plants is the best way to filter out the broadest range of chemicals, although more research is needed to see how effectively these plants act as air filters in real-world conditions. Here are four of the plants tested and the VOCs they absorbed in the lab’s sealed chambers:

  • Dracaena, (Dracaena frangas), absorbed 94% of acetone (present in nail polish remover).
  • Jade plant, (Crassula argentea), removed 91% of toluene (associated with paint thinners).
  • Spider plant, (Chrolophytum comosum), removed 62% of ethylbenzene, 92% of p-Xylenes, and 93% of o-Xylene (found in paints, varnishes, inks, rubbers, and adhesives).
  • Bromeliad, (Guzmania lingulata), not only removed 92% of benzene (present in vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke), it was the most effective VOC remover in the study—it absorbed 80% or more of six out of the eight chemicals tested.


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