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Indoor Plants May Be Working Overtime

2009 December 10

Given the winter weather forecast, I had to bring my potted plants inside. If it were up to me, I would have more plants everywhere in the house all year long. Unfortunately, I don’t have a green thumb, but when buying indoor plants, I look for those that will survive “my tender care.”

In researching hardy indoor plants that required minimal care, I came across an interesting NASA study  which highlights how some plants can actually improve indoor air quality. Although EPA does not endorse the NASA study on these alleged natural cleaning machines, I’ve found quite a few articles in the media and universities on the issue hailing the benefits of key indoor plants for indoor environments. Absorbing carbon dioxide, removing formaldehyde and VOCs are some of the positive effects from the plants’ presence, according to these studies. It was good to see that these beneficial plants should easily be found in local nurseries. Some of those plants highlighted for improving air quality are: English ivy, spider plant, Chinese evergreen, snake plant, philodendron, weeping fig, among others.

While I would like to extol the virtues of indoor plants, there are some that are not completely sold on the efficacy of plants as indoor air cleaners. Regardless, I believe the green foliage definitely contribute to a comfortable sensation and can have additional quality of live benefits be it in the home or the office.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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17 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 10, 2009

    Years ago, I imagined those families live like in the rural, thousands years later, in the other planets or the other skies. My concentrate just to think about interrelation between the parents and their children. All tools sophisticated. But, I don’t think about yours’ indoor plant, Lina….. Next time better, I should happy to see the perfect home, all tools and beautiful plant in the well families……!!!!

  2. Katy Neusteter permalink
    December 10, 2009

    This is great info–thanks. Not only do house plants liven up indoor spaces, which we need this time of year, they are also great detoxifiers. Check out this story from Natural Solutions magazine about which house plants are the best for detoxing your house’s air.

  3. Jean-Paul permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I recently wrote an article which compiled a list of the best indoor plants featured in the NASA and other research studies for their ability to remove toxins. They feature the plant names and what they filter best, just in case you are looking to add the most effective indoor filtering greenery for your home or workplace.

  4. brand-clothing permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I recently wrote an article which compiled a list of the best indoor plants featured in the NASA and other research studies for their ability to remove toxins. They feature the plant names and what they filter best, just in case you are looking to add the most effective indoor filtering greenery for your home or workplace.

  5. Joe permalink
    December 10, 2009

    While the EPA may not endorse plants as an air filtration system, it has certainly employed them for bioremediation of both soil and water. Its just a small leap from there to seeing how these same plants could absorb and sequester toxins through their stomates instead of their roots. Plus, even if they don’t improve the room’s air, they most definitely improve the room’s atmosphere… ha… ha….

  6. STEVE SPECTOR permalink
    December 10, 2009

    CO2 is now a pollutant, are people crazy? NO, but you have Power and are you arrogant and corrupt liars. 35 years ago it was Global Cooling:
    TIME Magazine Article — Another Ice Age? — Jun. 24, 1974
    I tell you 10 years from now, not 35, we will look back at you and laugh. Will you in 10 years admit that what you have done today was political and not based on science?

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    December 11, 2009

    I work in our city’s library. It is a large two story facility a block long. One of the newest and nicest libraries in Orange County. And we have trees growing inside the building in bohth the adults and childrens reading areas as well as various other indoor plants. We have them not only because they look nice year round but because they help clean the air inside of the building. Our city has been ranked a high number 7 in the country for being an environmentally sensitive community. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. Lina-EPA permalink*
    December 11, 2009

    Appreciate your comments. Glad to see the trees already having a positive impact in your city libraries.
    Please keep sending your comments to our blog. Appreciate your insight.

  9. w t harter permalink
    December 14, 2009

    It seems that I am more negative than positive relative to environmental matters or at least to the way they are presented but I can certainly vouch for the way indoor plants cheer up the place. My wife grows indoor cactus plants (by the room full) which produce gergeous blooms in November and December. However, since CO2 has now been classified as a hazardous gas I feel so sorry for these poor plants consuming all this hazardous material. Reckon we might be able to change their chemistry so they could change maybe nitrogen to oxygen.

  10. Rebecca Reindel permalink
    December 23, 2009

    Where/what is the article? And the author(s) name?

  11. Jeanne permalink
    February 8, 2010

    If you have a iPhone or iTouch check out the app Houseplant411. It describes how to care for 70 houseplants and tells whether or not they have been shown to clean the air.

  12. Justin East permalink
    March 24, 2010

    This site provides a great amount of info on using houseplants to clean the air. . . and other valuable insight on gardening and clean air.

  13. Eric Strate permalink
    April 13, 2010

    Great article. Some people are lazy, and don’t want to take care of plants. But, if someone were to market a beginners plant that is very durable, then people would do it. I work in the carpet cleaning industry and I try to be as green as possible and I’m currently looking into an electric carpet cleaning machine that would replace my gas one.

  14. Shannon Kissinger permalink
    May 1, 2010

    I am researching this topic and would be very interested in reading the article you wrote. Can you let me know where I can find it.

  15. November 2, 2010

    Interesting when you consider that EPA Region 7, Kansas City, has banned all plants in the work environment unless they are supplied and maintained by the owner and are in the atrium space at the Regional Office. No plants at the laboratory or Traning & Logistics Center.

  16. carpet cleaning south perth permalink
    November 23, 2011

    I found your post nice and interesting. I also love planting but maybe it doesn’t love me. Yes, it is true that indoor plants is such a great help. I’ve read some information about it until I came across here. Thanks.

  17. Ahmad Zaki Aldy (The Owner Of House Plants Decor) permalink
    November 29, 2012

    Living greenery softens the business-like effect and makes working at home a pleasant occupation.

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