Plants: Nature's Air Filters

Plants are Nature's Air Filters

Read On to learn more about how plants have been found to detoxify the air we breathe.

The Study That Changed Everything

In 2019, NASA performed a study to find out which plants were best to filter the space station's air, and their findings were pretty surprising. 

A group of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists, led by Doctor Bill Wolverton, examined the effects of a dozen house plants on three different airborne pollutants found in the space station. These same three pollutants- formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene- are also found in houses and office buildings. They are released by furniture, equipment in your office, and various building materials, and are easily undetectable. 

In this study, under controlled conditions, certain house plants were found to remove as much as 86.5 % of household air impurities within just one day!

Until recently, polluted indoor air was not deemed a health risk; many homes and public complexes released so much air, that air ended up being replaced every couple of hours. But throughout the 1970s, following energy shortages, increasingly more of us began to insulate homes and offices to save energy and lower heating and cooling costs. Consequently, indoor air could remain trapped inside for several hours or more, making it possible for contaminants to build up. 

Scientists are just starting to discover how indoor pollutants such as tobacco smoke, for example, can harm humans. Side effects range from skin and eye irritations to severe headaches and allergic reactions. Several of the contaminants may be cancer-causing as well.  

So How Do They Do It?

So how do the plants clean our air exactly? Photosynthesis.

Plants create their own food by way of photosynthesis. This means that they take in carbon dioxide from the air and then generate oxygen. Photosynthesis cleans our air by absorbing CO2 and taking in some other pollutants simultaneously. Plants emit water vapor which causes a pumping action to drag polluted air down close to a plant's roots, where it is then converted into food for the plant.

The Emotional Benefits of Plants

Studies have also suggested that plants have an emotional role in welfare. They have found that individuals truly get over illnesses quicker in the presence of plants and flowers. Wolverton's firm decided to work with another Japanese company, Takenaka Garden Afforestation Inc., of Tokyo, to design ecology gardens. These are carefully designed gardens that help eliminate the toxins from the air inside over 70 medical centers, as well as provide the healing presence of the foliage. 


After many studies and years of research, we now know that plants have a considerable role in purifying the air we breathe. It is important to note that although plants help to act as natural air filters, they should NOT be a replacement for a high-efficiency AC filter in your home. Your home AC filter should be your primary filtration device, and your clean air plants should act as supporting filtration devices. With this powerful combination, dust and debris stand no chance of surviving in your home.

Here is a complete list of plants shown to detoxify the air based on the 2019 NASA study: 

Via Wikipedia:    

English Ivy (Hedera helix)   

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)   

Golden Pothos or Devil's Ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)   

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')   

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)   

Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)   

Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law's Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')   

Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig')   

Warneck Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii')   

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamin)   

Gerbera Daisy or Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)   

Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)   

Rubber Plant (Ficus elastic)   

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)   

Selloum Philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)   

Elephant Ear Philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)   

Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)   

Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')

Do you have any indoor plants in your home, or do you plan to purchase any? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

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