houseplants to improve air quality

houseplants to improve air quality

Written By

Colleen Ludovice

The EPA rates indoor air pollution as one of the top five threats to public health. It’s sobering to realize that something as simple as the air we breathe indoors can serve as a serious risk to our health. Yet indoor air pollution is common in modern households, and our air can even be more seriously polluted than outdoor air in large industrialized cities (actually about 2-5 times more toxic, according to the EPA). Pollutant sources are abundant and it’s more about reducing our total exposure than pinpointing and eliminating just one source. These pollutants include scary chemicals like formaldehyde, radon, benzene, and carbon monoxide. Some pollutant sources are more obvious like gas, paint, or insulation, but lesser known sources include wet or damp carpet, certain wood products, central heating and cooling systems, cleaning products, and more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While these substances in the air are toxic to our health, the good news is that houseplants thrive on these chemicals and can actually remove significant quantities of pollutants in the air of our homes! Not only are they beautiful green decoration, we can feel good knowing that houseplants are improving our air quality as well. NASA has found several proven houseplants for removing pollutants in the home. Below is a list of recommended houseplants according to NASA.

Top 15 Plants to Improve Air Quality According to NASA:
Heartleaf philodendron
Elephant ear philodendron
Cornstalk dracaena
English ivy
Spider plant
Janet Craig dracaena
Warneck dracaena
Weeping fig
Golden pothos
Peace lily
Selloum philodendron
Chinese evergreen
Bamboo or reed palm
Snake plant
Red-edged dracaena

It’s important to remember that some plants remove certain chemicals better than others. And essentially any plant will improve air quality; the list above is proven to remove common air pollutants.

The majority (if not all) of these plants should be available at your local nursery . . . and are easy to grow! We have many of these plants scattered throughout our home and they bring me joy.

If you worry about keeping plants alive, just remember that plants need air, soil, water, light, and space to survive and grow. As a former “black thumb,” one thing I’ve learned is that generally plants need less care than I think! For watering, less is more, especially due to the fact that standing water can rot the roots and cause even more air pollutants. Also spray bottles are a great way to water plants and increase humidity.

Lastly, I encourage you to use caution when bringing outside products into the home, particularly household cleaners. Consider using natural products and avoid any harsh chemicals.

I hope you’re inspired to decorate your home with plants and breathe happy!


Sources & More Information: NASA study and Environmental Protection Agency’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality