Your Reading List

Plants Reduce Indoor Pollution


esearch by scientists has found that houseplants can reduce pollution levels dramatically by cleaning indoor



he World Health Organization reported in 2002 that harmful indoor pollutants represent a serious health problem that is responsible for some 1.6 million deaths every year.

“The indoor air quality is compromised by VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from furniture, carpeting, paint, adhesives and more, resulting in many illnesses that could be controlled or reduced with good plant selection in and around the home,” says Ron Smith, North Dakota State University Extension Service horticulturist.

Professor Stanley Kays, lead researcher for the University of Georgia study, found that houseplants improve air quality and contribute to a person’s well-being by reducing stress and reducing the symptoms of ill health.

The research consisted of 28 common houseplants and their ability to remove five indoor pollutants (benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, octane and formaldehyde).

“While all did the job to a certain extent, some ‘superplants’ were identified,” Smith says. “The superplants were the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus), wax plant (Hoya carnosa), English ivy (Hedera helix) and purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata). The purple heart plant (spider lily) and wandering Jew were rated superior for being able to remove four of the five VOCs.”

As well as the obvious health benefits, the increased use of indoor plants could have a tremendous positive impact on the ornamental plant industry by increasing customer demand and sales, according to the study.

About the author

North Dakota State University's recent articles



Stories from our other publications