The Best Air-Cleaning Houseplants, According to NASA

Based on a study conducted by NASA in 1989, this infographic lists toxins and pollutants present in the air we breathe, along with 18 common household plants that are the most helpful in filtering these toxins. We are accustomed to thinking that harmful, polluted air is present only outdoors, but you’ll be shocked at just how many toxic chemicals are present in our everyday household items. Because we also spend so much time indoors, urban dwellers especially, it is essential we find ways to keep the air we breathe clean.

Here are five toxins prevalent in our homes and the effects they have on us:
  • Ammonia – Present in fertilizers, scented salts, floor wax, and window cleaners. Symptoms include eye and throat irritation.
  • Benzene – Found in plastic, synthetic fibers, detergents, dyes, furniture wax, pesticides, rubber lubricants, drugs, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, glue, and paint. Can cause eye irritation, headaches and dizziness, drowsiness, increase in heart rate, and can lead to unconsciousness.
  • Formaldehyde – Found in synthetic fibers, waxed papers, paper bags, tissues, napkins, paper towels, and plywood panelling. Causes nose, mouth, and throat irritation, and can lead to lung and larynx swelling in extreme cases.
  • Trichloroethylene – Present in inks, lacquers, varnishes, paints, paint removers, and adhesives. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and can lead to coma in serious cases.
  • Xylene – Found in printed materials, leather, paint, tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust. Provokes mouth and throat irritation, dizziness, headache, heart complications, and in extreme cases leads to kidney and liver damage and coma.
Please keep in mind that the listed symptoms can be caused by short term exposure to any of these toxins.

But worry not! NASA has come to our rescue by studying the ways common household plants can filtrate the air of these harmful compounds. It’s therefore no surprise that plants are always our ally; not only do they give life and decor to our walls, but they purify our air, too! Listed below are the 18 air-filtering plants you should keep and the pollutants they clean out.

  • Bamboo palm – formaldehyde and xylene
  • Barberton daisy – formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene
  • Boston fern – formaldehyde and xylene
  • Broadleaf lady palm – ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene
  • Chinese evergreen – benzene and formaldehyde
  • Cornstalk dracanea – benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene
  • Devil’s ivy – benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene
  • Dwarf date palm – formaldehyde and xylene
  • English ivy – benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene
  • Flamingo lily – ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene
  • Florist’s chrysanthemum – filters all five pollutants.
  • Kimberly queen fern – formaldehyde and xylene
  • Lilyturf – ammonia, trichloroethylene, and xylene
  • Peace lily – filters all five pollutants
  • Red-edged dracanea – benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene
  • Spider plant – formaldehyde and xylene
  • Varigated snake plant – benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene
  • Weeping fig – formaldehyde and xylene

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