Graphic Shows the House Plants That Naturally Clean the Air in Your Home, According to a NASA Study

This is a quick public service announcement. If you believe in science and facts, read on.

Back in the 1980s, NASA published a research report called "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement" that grappled with a particular problem: Many modern buildings (particularly office buildings) have become so well insulated and hermetically sealed that they allow for little "free air exchange." As a result, toxins build up in these buildings (for example, from the off gassing of furniture) and the inhabitants eventually pay a price.

In response, NASA looked for natural ways to clean up these sealed spaces (like the International Space Station), particularly by availing themselves of the natural air filtering properties of everyday house plants:

In this study the leaves, roots, soil, and associated microorganisms of plants have been evaluated as a possible means of reducing indoor air pollutants. Additionally, a novel approach of using plant systems for removing high concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon has been designed from this work. This air filter design combines plants with an activated carbon filter as shown in Figure 1. The rationale for this design, which evolved from wastewater treatment studies, is based on moving large volumes of contaminated air through an activated carbon bed where smoke, organic chemicals, pathogenic microorganisms (if present), and possibly radon are absorbed by the carbon filter. Plant roots and their associated microorganisms then destroy the pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and the organic chemicals, eventually converting all of these air pollutants into new plant tissue.(31"37) It is believed that the decayed radon products would be taken up by the plant roots and retained in the plant tissue.

You can read the rest of the study here. And, above, find a graphic (created by LovetheGarden) that visualizes the results of the NASA study, showing which particular plants will reduce air pollution in your office and home.

For good measure, we've also added below a short video where researcher Kamal Meattle "shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air."

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