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?