House Plants That Improve Air Quality

Almost all houseplants can help clean the air in your home and improve overall air quality. A study by NASA, conducted to find common houseplants appropriate for space stations, found that a number of plants not only improve the oxygen levels in an area but certain species can also help remove harmful chemicals from the air. Some of the most common dangerous chemicals found in modern homes include benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.


Benzene is commonly included in plastic materials, glues, paints and dyes, making it a common pollutant in the modern home. Breathing low levels of benzene for an extended period of time can result in drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and an increased heart rate. English ivy, gerbera daisies, pot mums, peace lilies, bamboo palms and mother-in-law's tongue all can help reduce the amount of benzene in the air.


This chemical is often used in consumer products, building materials and furniture in the U.S. In low doses, trichloroethylene can damage the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. Exposure may eventually lead to cancer. Peace lilies, gerbera daisies and bamboo palms can filter out this dangerous carcinogen.


Formaldehyde is best known for its use in preserving biological specimens that are dissected throughout the country, but it is used in the home more than most people realize. Air fresheners, doors, plywood, toilet bowl cleansers, bathmats and many more common household products contain formaldehyde. Regular low-level exposure to this chemical can cause cancer, asthma, allergies and headaches. Plants that can help filter out formaldehyde include bamboo palm, mother-in-law's tongue, dracaena warneckei, peace lilies, dracaena marginata, golden pathos and green spider plants.

Keywords: houseplants, air quality, home carcinogens

About this Author

Jill Harness has written on a variety of subjects for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "San Diego City Beat," "Mental Floss," RueTheDayBlog and Harness has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.