How to Clean Air with Indoor Plants

In this rather concise TED video, Kamal Meattle explains that there are three common plants that can be used to grow all the fresh air needed to maintain human health.  Research suggests that these plants can help with tight, energy-efficient structures to mitigate what’s commonly referred to as sick building syndrome.  The plants are:

  • Areca palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens): converts CO2 into oxygen.
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue (sansevieria trifasciata) – converts CO2 into oxygen at night.
  • Money plant (epipremnum aureum) – removes formaldehyde and other volatile chemicals.

Meattle mentions certain “NASA learnings,” and it turns out the government backed a substantial amount of research in this area.  For example, in a report [PDF] published in September 15, 1989, NASA concluded: “If man is moved into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.

In other words, nature has a way of keeping the air clean.

The summary of NASA’s report also said: “Low-light-requiring houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters, have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings.

Meattle explains the number of plants required per person, but I suppose a smaller home with more occupants might not have room for all these plants. In that case, perhaps a start is a start.

Are you pursuing an air cleaning strategy with indoor plants?  Which ones?

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  • Mikemeade

    Interesting, as Mother-in-law’s tongue is considered a toxic plant. If the plan is to keep these in the house, make sure that they are out of the reach of children.

  • Joe Zazzera

    They actually are not toxic, although if you eat enough of anything you will get sick.

  • Sutmundo

    Here is another interesting TED video which is along the same lines. Architect in NY is using Oysters to purify the contaminated rivers and canals.

  • Pingback: Indoor Plants Clean Air - TED Video, Green Plants | ProScape

  • Venisse Quellette

    The best part is that these plants can grow via Hydroponics, meaning there’s no hassle in cleaning up dirt or soil falling from any pots or tray.

  • Planetpeacerachel

    I really appreciate the information you’ve posted here -and I’m surprised because I thought the common ‘spider plant’ was one of the top three. Thanks for your very informative and interesting blog, Preston! ~ Rachel

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