Using plants to Clean Indoor Air pollutants

High levels of indoor pollutants can affect every office environment. A NASA study has shown that plants effectively  remove indoor pollutants, cleaning the air for office workers, helping to create a better and safer work environment. EPA studies have shown indoor air pollutants can be 20 to 100 times higher than the level of outdoor air pollution.

The following text was reprinted directly from the NASA web site.

RELEASE: 89-149

"Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution, based on research conducted by NASA.

NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) today announced the findings of a 2-year study that suggests that common indoor plant may provide a natural way of combating "sick building syndrome". An acute incidence of indoor air pollution that can occur in closed or poorly ventilated offices and residences.

Research into the use of biological processes, as a means of solving environmental problems both on Earth and in space habitats, has been carried out for many years by Dr. Bill Wolverton, a senior research scientist at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Based on preliminary evaluations of the use of common indoor plants for indoor air purification and revitalization, ALCA joined NASA to fund a study of about a dozen popular varieties of ornamental plants to determine their effectiveness in removing several key pollutants associated with indoor air pollution.

Each plant type was placed in sealed, plexiglass chambers in which chemicals were injected. Philodendron, Spider plant and the Golden pothos were labeled as the most effective in removing formaldehyde. Flowering plants such as the Gerbera daisy and Chrysanthemums were rated superior in removing benzene from the chamber atmosphere.

Other plants demonstrated to be effective air purifiers include the Bamboo palm, Peace lily, Ficus, Dracaena massangeana cane, Mother-in-Law's tongue (Sanseveria), English Ivy and Chinese evergreen species.

"Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves", Wolverton said. "But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors"

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