Pick up a few of these common houseplants the next time you visit a local nursery: palms, ferns, corn plant, dragon tree (dracaena), rubber plant, weeping fig (ficus), English ivy, peace lily, florist mum, gerber daisy, dumb cane (dieffenbachia), schefflera, orchid, spider plant, philodendron, arrowhead plant, pothos, dwarf banana and Chinese evergreen.
Why? Houseplants can help remove certain harmful volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from indoor air. Things nobody wants around their lungs, or their kids.
In the late 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) conducted a study of 19 houseplants in an attempt to find ways to purify air for extended stays in orbiting space stations. The tests were conducted in sealed test chambers that contained pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, commonly present in indoor air from paints, varnishes, insulation, particleboard, pressed wood, adhesives and other sources.
What they learned for outer space can be applied to your inner space as well. Many of these plants are adapted to tropical climates and grow under dense canopies and low-light conditions. They have to be super efficient in capturing light as well as in processing the gases necessary for photosynthesis. Because of these traits, they have greater potential for capturing other gases, including harmful ones.
One company has taken the idea a step further with an enclosure for houseplants called Andrea. According to the designers, the device magnifies the ability of plants to filter toxins, since its optimizing airflow and exchange.
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