NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) conducted a Clean Air Study in 1989, confirming a list of common indoor plants that clean the air by removing toxic agents.
NASA researchers carried out the study in order to find plants that could ensure good air quality on space stations. Most of the plants listed are from tropical environments where low or dappled light is common, meaning those with very little nature light in their houses or apartments can still grow these handy helpful plants.
Prolonged or extreme exposure to toxic agents or chemicals, commonly found in exhaust, cigarette smoke and by products of industry, causes increased risk of cancer and other illnesses. The plants in the study were tested for their ability to clear toxic agents of most concern for indoor environments such as:
Benzene – effects include irritation to eyes, headaches, increased heart rate, and in extreme cases unconsciousness.
Formaldehyde – nose, mouth and throat irritation and in extreme cases inflammation of the throat and lungs.
Trichloroethylene – effects include dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting.
Ammonia – effects include irritation of the eyes, coughing and sore throat.
Xylene – effects include irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, heart problems, and in extreme cases liver and kidney damage.
Each plant listed by NASA has a combination of skills to neutralise airborne chemicals. Some of these combat one or two chemicals, where as one combats all five identified pollutants: the humble Florist’s chrysanthemum.
NASA recommends at least one plant per approximately 9 square meters for optimal air filtering.
Important note: If you have pets be sure to check that the plants you choose are not toxic to animals.