Starting to look at plants

House plants on a shelf

Hello readers! Wanted to give an update that I am starting to research common house plants. I want to know how effective they are at improving indoor air. There is quite a bit of research on the topic. I just finished reading the landmark NASA study, Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Published in 1989, this study attempted to measure the effects of various houseplants in reducing indoor concentrations of Benzene, Trichloroethylene, and Formaldehyde. NASA wanted to figure out if they could use low-light plants to clean the air for their astronauts in space, but also to see if plants were helpful at reducing pollutants that may be responsible for persons suffering from Sick Building Syndrome.

This study, although conducted over 30 years ago, was very rigorous in establishing controls. The scientists created glass chambers that they tested for leaks, and set up controls including comparing empty chambers, and chambers with just potting soil present. What was interesting was that they believe that although the house plants were able to remove these three chemicals at different rates, it was likely that the organisms in the top soil also aided in the pollutant removal. They argued that it would be much more efficient to have a fan that flows air across or through a top soil / filter combination to clean air. Plants themselves were much less effective.

Over the next few weeks I plan on gathering more research papers that establish how much plants clean the indoor air and whether or not they are effective at improving indoor air quality. I am hoping with this research I can start to create a guide of how to ensure your indoor air is best quality it can be. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback for me, please email me at

Published on Jan 31, 2021 by Greg

Last modified on on Feb 05, 2021