I am marrying a man who knows how to work a houseplant. It is, as the Victorians might have termed, an extremely advantageous match. Why? Because I once kept a ficus tree in the same pot for 13 years and possess plant nurturing skills that work like a bottle of Raid on an ant farm. But now I’ve “landed” (now it’s the early 1960s, stay with me) a man with a green thumb. So I can literally breathe easier.
Why? Because as NASA points out, there are plants you can place about your abode that will literally help you breathe – cleaner air, that is. According to a NASA study, “certain common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air, helping neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome.” Sick building syndrome is when a combination of causes lead to unhealthy air in the workplace.
Some plants are better than others at cleaning the air. As we have already reported, houseplants can contribute to a reduction in eye irritation by 52 percent, respiratory problems by 34 percent and headaches by 24 percent. (Also check out our look at the ten easiest houseplants to grow.) But want to know the best plants to clean the air?
The Boston Fern is apparently the best plant for removing toxins from the room. It is one of the most efficient air-filtering plants. Plus its prehistoric look will contribute to Fred Flintstone daydreams while you are working.
Gerbera daisies are not only stylish and pretty – they are one of the most effective plants in removing trichloroethylene concentrations from the air. Trichloroethylene is a “commercial product that has a wide variety of industrial uses. It is used in some printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.”
This plant is also known as the “most efficient air humidifier.” Why? It gives off large amounts of water into the air while removing chemical toxins. A six-foot palm releases up to one liter of water a day. You can leave your humidifier in the closet all winter with a few of these plants.
Green Spider Plant
This is one of the top plants to remove concentrations of formaldehyde in the air, making it a superhero of plants. And formaldehyde is all over your house. It is in “foam insulation, particle board or pressed-wood products. Consumer paper products, including grocery bags, waxed paper, facial tissue and paper towels, are treated with urea formaldehyde resins. Many household cleaning agents contain formaldehyde.”
Want to remove benzene concentrations from the air? Then peace out with the peace lily. Benzene is a “commonly used solvent in such items as gasoline, inks, oils, paint, plastic and rubber. Furthermore, it is used in the manufacture of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals and dyes.”
The Dracaena, also known as the Janet Craig, is sometimes called a clean air machine. It is quick to start working, so it is a good choice if you want clean air fast.
English Ivy is a great choice for someone with allergies. After 12 hours in a room, it can remove up to 78 percent of airborne mold and 94 percent of airborne feces. But it is toxic if ingested, to make sure it is out of reach of pets and kids.