Green your air with houseplants that filter harmful pollutants

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Many people keep plants around their home for their calming effect or to make a room look more inviting. However, these green beauties can also act as natural air purifiers, improving your indoor air quality.

Twenty years ago, NASA released a major study indicating common low-light potted plants can improve air quality inside. We’ve long known that plants consume carbon dioxide, but the NASA study confirmed plants also process other “off-gases” like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene.

Manufactured furniture, paint and other synthetic building materials can emit, or “off-gas,” these compounds, which have been linked to certain health problems.

Researchers tested a range of houseplants and blooming potted plants and found that some varieties are more effective than others, but all plants helped filter carbon dioxide, formaldehyde or other specific compounds from the air.

Today, plants remain one of the easiest, most effective ways to counteract indoor air pollution. According to calculations based on the NASA report, it takes about 15 to 18 decently sized houseplants, about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, to improve the air quality in a 1,800-square-foot home.

Tips on cleaning your air with plants

- Studies indicate that plants’ root and soil area plays a major role in removing volatile organic compounds from the air. Make sure your houseplants’ foliage is trimmed back at the base to maximize air exposure.

- Warmer temperatures and additional light make plants more effective at absorbing pollutants.

- Do your homework and make sure you know the proper light, water and soil conditions for each of your houseplants. The more they grow, the better they are at filtering the air.