Closed up offices with sealed windows and maximum insulation, and no fresh air circulating through the building, can lead to health issues, such as "sick building syndrome." Contaminants like formaldehyde, black mold, radon, carbon monoxide and other gases accumulate inside. A study by NASA showed that 15 plants can help purify the air of an 1,800-square-foot building.
In a two year study by NASA, certain gases and pollutants were put into Plexiglas chambers with different plants. This was to test how effective the plants would be in cleaning the air. Plants that removed up to 90 percent of the formaldehyde which was forced into the chamber included aloe, the snake plant, golden pothos and philodendron. All of these plants could be used in an office to help clean the air.
When testing plants for benzene, the peace lily, English ivy, dracaena and gerbera daisy removed up to 80 percent. The plants practically cut the Trichloroethene (TCE) levels in half. TCE is an unstable organic chemical in cleaning products, glues and paints, which gets in the air through evaporation. The plants were also effective at removing carbon monoxide and other pollutants.
Included on the list of popular houseplants to help clean the air included the ficus, spider plant, rubber plant and Boston fern. A variety of palms were on the list prepared by a newsletter published by Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. The palms included the areca palm, bamboo palm, dwarf date palm, reed palm and the prayer palm.
The Chinese evergreen, which will grow in darker rooms, was also included on the newsletter. Flowering plants, such as the Christmas cactus, chrysanthemum would cyclamen add blossoms to the office as well as assistance in filtering the air.