Plants Used As Living Air Purifiers – NASA Study

Dr. Bill Wolverton, formerly a Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, did research into the use of common indoor plants for indoor air purification.

Sunroom with Air Purifing Plants

Based on this study, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of American (ALCA) completed a two year study that suggest these plants provide a natural way of combating sick building syndrome where concentrated toxins are making people feel sick.

The most common symptoms of sick building syndrome are burning eyes and respiratory difficulties from out-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which spreads the VOC’s such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, all known irritants and potential carcinogens.  These plants are so effective at absorbing contaminants that they will be part of the biological support system on future space stations.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Wolverton stated “We feel that future results will provide an even stronger argument that common indoor landscaping plants can be a very effective part of a system to provide pollution free homes and work places.”

He published a NASA report in l989 stating, “If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.”  Plants.

NASA recommends a six inch plant for every 100 square feet of living space.


Common Name Scientific Name Special Notes: Score Card
1 Areca Palm Shrysalidocarpus Lutescens Highest removal rate for formaldehyde; also great for putting moisture back into your home or office. 8.5
2 Lady Palm Rhapis Excelsa Not the most efficient at removing formaldehyde but is resistant to the majority of plant insects. 8.5
3 Bamboo Palm Chamaedorea Seifrizii Third most powerful plant for removing formaldehyde. 8.4
4 Rubber Plant Fiscus Robusta Provides moisture, takes away VOC’s and suppresses air based micro oranisms. 8.0
5 Dracaena “Janet Craig” Dracaena Deremensis “Janet Craig” Removes formaldehyde and xylene; very effective with new carpet and furnishings.
6 English Ivy Hedera Helix Great for allergies, asthma and mold; Caution: It is toxic so keep away from animals and young children so they don’t consume it. 7.8
7 Dwarf Date Palm Phoenix Roebelinii Removes VOC’s, formaldehyde 7.8
8 Fiscus Alii Ficus Macleilandii “Alii” Not as strong for removing pollutants but great to have where clear air is missing. 7.7
9 Boston Fern Nephrolepis Exalta “Bostoniensis” Highly rated for removing formaldehyde 7.5
10 Peace Lily Spathiphyllum sp. If you don’t have a green thumb, this might be the perfect air purifier plant for you; very easy to grow! 7.5

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3 Responses to “Plants Used As Living Air Purifiers – NASA Study”

  • I think other Homepages proprietors should take this Web-Site as an model, very clean and great user best style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert in this topic!King Regards Tom

  • Nestor Loyola:

    At the International Space Station ISS repairs are often needed on the exterior, the problem is it is a lot of work to send out a manned space walk to do this. Astronauts need oxygen and they have the problems of human error. Yet if we use robots, well they do not complain, unless programmed too. Robots in fact could spend months to fix something, astronauts five day space walk missions are about all we can muster right now and if we cannot get it done in time, imagine the cost for another launch. What about Fatigue factors, which take a toll on the organic components of the human body? Costs to send up a space crew to do repairs can be millions if not billions of dollars.^

    My personal blog site

  • Morton Lallo:

    There are several good choices for consumers existing in today’s marketplace. Your choices of air purifier may be completely different based according to what you are trying to achieve in your particular indoor air quality situation. For instance, if your main goal is to clear your air of allergens, you should choose an air purifier which would remove the large particulate matter such as pollen or dust with a pre-filter, but also the smaller allergens, ie: particulates from 0.3 to 5 microns in size. These smaller allergens include mold, bacteria, various animal danders, fumes (volatile organinc compounds: VOC’s) and house dust mite allergens among other things. –

    Our own web site

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Dr. Norman Walker
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