NASA and Air Quality

house plant

Back in 1989, NASA got concerned enough with indoor air quality that they conducted a study showing which common house plants could be used to decrease pollutants in air. Over the years, building construction materials have become infiltrated with gases and chemicals that don’t end up being very healthy for humans. These construction materials get used in homes and as time passes the “off gassing” takes place ending up in the lungs of the inhabitants.

Sick Building Syndrome” has become a new reason for employee absenteeism and various lung and immune disorders that cannot otherwise be explained. Human resources departments across America have documented losses of production and higher medical insurance payments that can be directly linked to the indoor quality of air those employees breath every day they are working.

Chemical Air

Benzene is a colorless and flammable carcinogen used in the creation of plastics, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, pesticides, and lubricants. Formaldehyde is colorless, but does have a distinctive smell. It is flammable and used in pressed woods, fiber board, plywood, appliances, kerosene space heaters, permanent press clothing, glue, embalming fluid, and other manufacturing processes. Trichloroethylene is a colorless, volatile liquid used commercially as a solvent. It can remove grease and is used as a spot removal agent. It is also used to create hydro-fluorocarbon refrigerants.

These are just the primary chemicals. There are many more that are being regulated, but still find their way into products that we use. Some chemicals, although not directly found in products are used in the manufacturing of products that we use daily such as paper towels and toothpaste.

With all of these chemicals in the air, NASA and others across the world have found it necessary to “return to nature” to get the help we need. Thus, we turn to the mighty plant to provide the filtering we need and the good air we breathe.

Plants as Filters

The first line of defense for an acceptable level of air quality is an appropriately fitted air filter. But, this can be supplemented by adding certain plants. One plant for every 100 sq. ft. is a good place to start.

Here is a list of plants to use.

Chrysanthemum                                      Peace Lily                                     Red-Edged Dracaena

Variegated Snake Plant                              English Ivy                                  Flamingo Lily

Broadleaf Lady Palm                            Cornstalk Dracaena                         Barberton Daisies

Devils Ivy                                          Dwarf Date Palm                                    Areca Palm

Boston Fern                                     Kimberly Queen Fern                                Spider Plant

Devil’s Ivy                                      Chinese Evergreen                                     Bamboo Palm

Heartleaf Philodendron                         Selloum Philodendron                          Elephant Ear Philodendron

Red-edged Dracaena                          Weeping Fig                                          Barberton Daisy

Florist’s Chrysanthemum                            Rubber Plant                                    Dendrobium Orchids

Dumb Canes                                      King of Hearts                                         Moth Orchids

Banana                           Aloe Vera                              Janet Craig                                     Warneckei

Is is significant to note most of these plants are tropical or subtropical plants. Originating from these areas of the world and dwelling mostly in low sunlight and dense areas has made these plants create large foliage spreads. These large foliage or leafs end up being excellent for purifying indoor air as they can create many more opportunities for photosynthesis to take place in an enclosed, small space.

In addition, the low light usually provided inside a dwelling or office area will not necessarily harm these kinds of plants.