Plants are notoriously adept at absorbing gases through pores on the surface of their leaves. It’s this skill that facilitates photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light energy and carbon dioxide into chemical energy to fuel growth.
But scientists studying the air-purification capacities of indoor plants have found that plants can absorb many other gases in addition to carbon dioxide, including a long list of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Benzene (found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet cleaner) are examples of common indoor VOCs that plants help eliminate.
An indoor plant’s ability to remove these harmful compounds from the air is an example of phytoremediation, which is the use of any plant — indoors or out — to mitigate pollution in air, soil or water.
Indoor plants remove pollutants from the air by absorbing these gases through their leaves and roots. The microorganisms that live in the soil of potted plants also play an instrumental role in neutralizing VOCs and other pollutants. ~ Live Science
by Janice Anderssen
When winter arrives, we close windows and doors to keep a home warm. Adding air purifying plants not only benefits air quality, but also removes toxins that we breathe.
Houseplants that purify indoor air
We know that all plants – both indoor and outdoor varieties – produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Did you also know that certain houseplants control humidity and indoor climate, and there are specific plants that purify the air? Known as air purifying plants, these plants absorb harmful gases and improve indoor climate, making the air that we breathe clean and invigorating.
Indoor air contains tiny particles that are residues of toxins from furniture, clothes, flooring and paint, to name a few. Air purifying plants have the ability to filter these substances from the air via microscopic openings on the leaves. These harmful substances are absorbed by the plant and passed on to the root system.
At the top of the list of air purifying plants are plants with large leaves. These are excellent at capturing harmful particles.
Other air purifying plants include: mother-in-law’s tongue or sansevieria, spider plant, Dracena, ficus, ivy, peace lily, schefflera actinophylla, and golden creeper. If you prefer flowering plants, consider: gerbera, chrysanthemum, azalea, poinsettia, and cyclamen.
GOOD TO KNOW: Most air purifying plants require regular watering, so be sure to keep them happy as they clean the air. Plants also benefit from being dusted off to remove traces of the toxic particles. Gently wipe with a soft, damp cloth or set the plant in the shower to rinse off the dust.
There are numerous studies that reveal that plants not only have a calming effect, but that they also help to clean the air of toxins and improve the indoor climate. If you consider the documented beneficial properties of plants, including air purifying plants, it’s a wise choice to fill your home with plants!
During the dry seasons of the year, buy plants that increase humidity and improve air quality.