For many years nobody considered the impact of plants as an indoor-purifier. Yes, the environment friendly role of plants is known since ages, but nobody imagined the extent to which plants can purify the air inside your living space. That was before NASA stepped in to assist the Associated Contractors of America (ALCA) in a quest to conclude a list of the most effective plants that clean the air indoors by removing toxic-agents.
Dr B. C. Wolverton led the team of the researchers. The study concluded that the Florist’s Mum is the most effective among all. The research was based on the ability of the plant to filter out formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, toluene, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
Here is the full list of the most efficient plants that clean air:
The List of 26 Air Purifying Plants
1. Broadleaf Lady Palm – Rhapis excelsa
Image source: starrenvironmental.com
They are easy-growing, but you need to make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 21oC. Also, don’t keep them under direct sunlight.
The speed of the growth is slow but consistent. If you see spider mites around the leaves of this plant, make sure to wipe them out with the help of soapy water.
They purify air from formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and carbon dioxide.
These plants are not toxic to dogs or cats.
2. Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea seifrizii
Image source: biolib.de
The plant is also known as Reed Palm, and you have to keep it at a temperature not more than 24oC. Make sure to add a little sand to the soil. Don’t make a mistake of overwatering these plants. Yes, the ground should remain wet all the time, but the water should not linger for a long time.
Bamboo Palm purifies air from formaldehyde. It also eliminates benzene as well as trichloroethylene.
Make sure to place these plants in semi-sunlight. They grow well in temperature ranging from 16oC to 24oC. Like most of the palms, Dwarf Date also grows slowly but consistently and can reach a height of 10 feet. Their leaf-end is sharp so make sure not to place it in kid’s playing area.
These plants like barely moist soil, and make sure to wipe off spider mites and whitefly as these insects love being around Boston Fern. The plant gains a maximum height of 4 feet, but they can spread up to as much as five feet. The suitable temperature range for these plants is from 18oC to 24oC.
The plant purifies the air from formaldehyde.
5. Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
Also known as “Mauna Loa”, the Peace Lily is a powerful air purifier. It demands some care, and if there is a high level of humidity and indirect sunlight, the plant grows well. Don’t forget to mist the leaves on a regularly. From 16oC to 24oC is the suitable temperature range for these plants.
Peace Lily is toxic to pets as well as humans. Their leaves feature calcium oxalate.
Peace Lily purifies the air from acetone, alcohols, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.
People often tend to eradicate Spider Plants (occasionally called Airplane Plants). They quickly regrow, and the good news is that you don’t need to remove these plants. Just cut off a couple of its spiders and place them in the pot.
Spider Plants purify the air from benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and xylene.
They don’t feature toxic elements, so your family and pets are completely safe around Spider Plants.
7. Gerbera Daisy – Gerbera jamesonii
Also called Barberton Daisy, Gerbera features bright flowers. You need to make sure that there are drainage holes in the pot. Mist its leaves for at least twice a week. Also, don’t forget to feed them with direct sunlight for about 6-hrs a day.
Gerberas purify the air from benzene and trichloroethylene.
These plants also have an interesting name – Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. You can place them in the bedroom at night, because against the thumb-rule these plants absorb CO2 and release O2 during night hours.
Also called Mum, these plants feature colourful flowers contributing to the aesthetic beauty of the office or the room where you place them. Their convincing beauty encourages people to bring these plants inside to match the interior. These plants feature almost any colors.
Chrysantheium morifolium purify the air from benzene.
10. Red-Edged Dracaena – Dracaena marginata
Image source: starrenvironmental.com
These plants feature striking colours and are famous for their purple-red edges. The growth of these plants is consistent but slow. They can grow up to 15 feet.
Red-Edged Dracaena purifies the air from xylene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
This plant grows well in the presence of indirect yet bright light. But if the temperature rises significantly, or if the light fluctuates – this plant won’t grow well.
Weeping Fig is known for purifying the air from formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
12. English Ivy – Hedera helix
People love this plant, but the problem is that the English Ivy tends to damage vegetation around it. That’s why it is better to place it in pots instead of orchards. It needs moist soil, but make sure to feed it with at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day.
English Ivy purifies the air from formaldehyde and faecal-matter particles.
This plant doesn’t require much care. It requires minimum light and grows well even in places that are not recommended for other plants. These tropical plants like humidity and if the atmosphere is too dry, the tips of the leaves may turn brown.
The Chinese Evergreen purifies the air from formaldehyde and benzene.
Chinese Evergreen plants carry toxic elements that are dangerous for dogs.
14. Areca Palm – Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Image source: starrenvironmental.com
Otherwise known as Butterfly Palm – this delicate plant grows fast and attains a height of 12 feet. Make sure that you select the plant with the thicker trunk. If the stem is as thin as a pencil, then there are chances of toppling over, and it will make it difficult to keep them erect.
Areca Palm purifies the air from xylene and toluene. Toluene is basically the combination of dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde.
These plants grow well in semi-shade semi-light conditions. Don’t put them under direct sunlight, especially when the weather is hot.
These plants can reach a height of 8 feet. Often, rubber plants require stake support. Be careful when handling these plants.
Don’t forget to wear gloves before trimming these plants as the milky-sap causes irritation on the skin.
Rubber Plant purifies the air from formaldehyde.
16. Janet Graig – Dracaena deremensis
Image source: David Stang (first published at ZipcodeZoo.com)
They prefer semi-shade and indirect sunlight. These plants don’t like soggy soil. Besides, make sure that the root ball doesn’t completely dry out. During warmer season, Janet Graig requires consistent mist.
Janet Graig cleans the air by filtering trichloroethylene.
These plants grow well in the presence of medium light, but even low light doesn’t hurt them. They are a well-known indoor plants for their adaptability to grow in almost all indoor conditions. They can reach up to 6 feet above their base.
Philodendron plant filters xylene from the air along with other pollutants.
Don’t place these plants near air conditioning vents as their leaves shed after coming in contact with heat. Make sure to keep the soil moist enough, but don’t let the water stand for a long time. Yellow colouring of its leaves is suggestive of overwatering.
Keep them away from kids and pets as these plants contain poisonous elements.
These plants purify the air from chemical vapours.
19. Aloe – Aloe vera
Aloe is arguably the most easy-growing plant. It likes sunlight, and this is what makes this plant one of the favourite green-companion of humans for over 6000 years. During the early days, the Egyptians called it is The Plant of Immortality. Other than its benefits for skin and human health, these plants are natural purifiers.
Aloe vera purifies the air from benzene and formaldehyde.
20. Golden Pothos – Scindapsus aureus
Golden Pothos like indirect yet bright light. Make sure not to provide them with excessive water.
These plants filter formaldehyde from the air.
Golden Pothos is poisonous, so keep it away from pets and kids.
21. Pineapple Plant – Ananas comosus
Pineapple plants have a tremendous ability to lift the oxygen level at night times. This quality makes these plants perfect for all those looking to enhance the quality of air indoors.
Pineapple plants aren’t known for the filtration of toxins, but if you want to get rid of snoring, then these plants can serve the purpose. The good thing is that pineapple plants don’t require much water. The only thing you need to be careful about is that frost is not good for these plants, so they don’t flourish in a cold environment.
These evergreen plants feature highly attractive flowers significantly contributing to the aesthetic appeal of an office or a living room. Greek mythology was inspired by these plants, and they symbolised love. Even today, people love gifting Flamingo Lily to their friends and family members to express their care and affection.
Flamingo Lily features large leaves with dark colouring. These leaves effectively filter the air by absorbing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.
23. Lilyturf – Liriope spicata
Image source: starrenvironmental.com
They are mostly featured as border grass and make perfect edging for your outdoor space, but Lilyturfs are also exceptionally good for indoor gardening. Interior plant-scapers use Lilyturf on a consistent basis. The plant can reach a height of 12” to 18”, and during summer it has lavender and white flowers.
These are semi-shade, semi-sun plants. If the air is too dry, pests invade the plant, so you need to provide it with some humidity. Make sure to water it consistently so that the soil remains moist.
Apart from removing ammonia from the air, this plant also filters xylene, formaldehyde, and toluene to let you breathe the fresh air.
24. Kimberly Queen Fern – Nephrolepis obliterata
Image source: David Stang (first published at ZipcodeZoo.com)
Though the Boston Fern is more popular comparing to the Kimberly Queen Fern, don’t underestimate the potential of these plants as an air purifier. They lose their leaves less often than the Boston. And they bloom well even if the humidity level is low.
You need to ensure regular misting and watering to help these plants grow. They like wet ground, but never let the water stay as it’s not good for these plants.
Kimberly Queen Fern purifies the air from alcohols, formaldehyde, and xylene.
25. Devil’s Ivy – Epipremnum aureum
This is another good option for natural air purification, but you need to be careful as these plants are toxic to pets (it contains raphides). Also, they contain calcium oxalate that is mildly toxic to humans.
Being famous for its marble-leaves, this plant is easy-going and requires less care. You need to water these plants only when the soil is dry. Keep them away from direct sunlight. Devil’s Ivy grows well under indirect light.
Epipremnum aureum filter the air from formaldehyde, benzene and xylene.
Another Dracaena plant becomes the part of this list because of its exceptional ability to purify the air. Cornstalk is an easy-going plant and even doesn’t mind occasional watering missing. Its long leaves manage to clean a lot of air around. These plants can grow from 10 feet to 12 feet tall.
Do not let the pets consume its leaves because it is toxic to cats as well as dogs.
Cornstalk Dracaena filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene from the air.
Let’s now have a look at the toxic elements in the air and symptoms they may cause.
You should take extra care during the selection. Due to the fact that some of these plants carry toxic substances, it makes it vital to first ensure the safety of your kids, all family members and pets.
Select Suitable Plants
You need to evaluate the structure of your house, because some of these plants spread across and elevate beyond the standard height of ceilings. But, that isn’t an issue if you live in an area where the climate is perfect for the plant and you have sufficient outdoor space to accommodate them as they grow more prominent enough to occupy much more indoor space.
Consult with Experts
If you aren’t sure about some indoor plants and their efficiency, then it is better to consult with experts. It would be perfect if they’re able to visit your house to evaluate the surroundings, lighting conditions, and available space.
Nature has always been generous and helped us to solve even the man-made problems. Plants are impressive when it comes to the purification of the environment. We live in harsh climates, and the density of the pollutants has been increasing since we first introduced our lives to carbon, lead and other toxic substances. Industrialisation keeps disturbing the natural balance, and that is what makes it extremely important to restore the natural balance as much as we can.
There is nothing more appropriate than having air cleaning plants in our rooms and offices. They allow us to breathe fresh air at least when you are in your house.
Stay safe, breathe fresh, and purify your life by making maximum use of the gifts from nature!
A recent study has investigated the impact of air quality on the performance of chess players.
Researchers at the Institute of Labour Economics looked at various chess tournaments over a three-year period in Germany.
In order to accurately measure air quality, they installed sensors inside the tournament venue which continuously measured the indoor environmental conditions.
According to the researchers, chess provides an ideal setting to study the relationship between air pollution and cognition because chess requires the use of cognitive skills and strategic decision making.
To give the study enough data, each tournament comprised of seven rounds over a period of eight weeks, and the data contained detailed information on about 30,000 moves made by 121 players in 596 games.
The researchers then merged this information with measures of air quality from inside the tournament venue.
The results from the study revealed that an increase in the indoor concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by 10 μg/m3 increases a player’s probability of making an error by 26.3%.
The impact was most pronounced when the players were also acting under time pressure.
They also found that older individuals were more affected by poor air quality.
The effect of indoor concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) was smaller and only had an impact during phases of the game when decisions are taken under high tine stress.
The study could have wider implications than just chess as researchers believe that the findings can be used to estimate different occasions with higher levels of air pollution when individuals are required to make complex decisions and execute cognitive tasks under time pressure.
Several recent studies have linked air pollution to cognitive decline and mental health. In August, a study suggested there is a ‘significant link’ between exposure to air pollution in childhood and developing mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression later in life.
In January, a groundbreaking study found that happiness levels on social media decline during periods of high air pollution.
When nail salons are in the news, the coverage is rarely pretty. A 2015 New York Times investigation, for example, uncovered details about the industry’s underpaid workers—overwhelmingly immigrants—and their health complaints. The series prompted swift legislation in New York State. However, it also sparked backlash from salon owners who felt that the costly new mandates would harm their small businesses and that the series went too far in generalizing about their industry.
Lupita Montoya, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, is taking a different approach to the issue by involving both nail salon owners and workers from the start. At local nail salons, her team measured pollutants in the air generated through the use of nail polishes, polish removers, and artificial nail products. The researchers captured pollutants in specially designed vessels and quantified them using a variety of analytical techniques. Carmen Drahl spoke with Montoya—an immigrant herself—about the science and about working with salon communities to find solutions to indoor air pollution.
What sparked your interest in the air quality at nail salons?
My research expertise is in indoor air quality, but I’m also a first-generation scientist. I’m in many different spaces where I see workers exposed to compounds that probably are posing a hazard, yet we don’t know much about it because we rarely study these populations. When I walk into any nail salon, the first thing that impacts me is the smell. So knowing what the smell may mean—that likely there are high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds)—just makes me wonder what kinds of compounds those are and how they may be affecting the people that work there because they experience long-term exposure.
How did you find nail salons that would agree to be tested?
That was a real challenge. I spent a year visiting salons and talking to people about the possibility of taking some measurements, and it became evident quickly that people were not comfortable just saying yes.
I put fieldwork on the back burner for over a year until one of my undergraduate advisees—Feng Xiang, a first-generation student—asked me a question regarding my research. She said, “I have some friends who might be interested in helping you access some of these places.” I ultimately had several undergraduate students, all of them first generation, on the project. None of them had done research, but they had a personal interest in the work. They have connections to the nail salon industry. And that’s how we started.
What has your fieldwork found in terms of nail salon air quality?
Credit: Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado BoulderBottles of nail polish like the one held by Lupita Montoya may emit volatile organic compounds into nail salons’ air.
We were measuring the BTEX family of compounds—benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes—using specially prepared canisters that capture VOCs for analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. People study them in many different contexts, and some of them are carcinogenic. We did a comparison with two other studies of VOC levels in other workplaces to see where nail salons fall. We found that the measurements in the nail salons were often on par with reported measurements in oil refineries and auto garages. Another compound that was present was methyl methacrylate, or MMA. What was interesting about that is that MMA has been banned in Colorado. Because of allergic reactions in both customers and workers, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Methacrylate Producers Association have concluded that MMA in its liquid form should not be used in nail products. We followed up with questions for the workers. Even though it’s banned, you can still buy it in products for artificial nails. In some cases the workers prefer this compound over other, less hazardous ones because it’s easier to apply. So sometimes the practices of the workers are truly against their own interests.
Fragrances have been under fire for their toxicity lately and now the evidence is mounting that wearing deodorant and other simple acts of human existence – including breathing – may be the biggest source of air pollution in offices.
The preliminary research out of Purdue University in the US found that the chemistry of indoor air is constantly changing and that people might be the main source of volatile organic compounds in a modern office environment.
“The chemistry of indoor air is dynamic. It changes throughout the day based on outdoor conditions, how the ventilation system operates and occupancy patterns in the office,” Purdue University assistant professor of civil engineering Brandon Boor said.
For the research, the team of engineers came up with new precision ways of measuring and tracking volatile organic compounds in a Living Lab building.
It involves putting temperature sensors in each desk chair so that researchers know when people are coming and going, and a collection of sensors to track the flow of indoor and outdoor air through the ventilation system.
Sniffing out the human pollutants
A nose-like instrument was also used to “sniff” out airborne compounds in real time. It found that people leave behind many volatile compounds even after they have left the room.
Another key finding was that the more people in the room, the more VOCs were found in the air. Without appropriate ventilation, which can dilute the concentration of indoor pollutants, the levels of many compounds were found to be 10 to 20 times higher indoors than outdoors.
This is complicated by the level of pollutants in the outdoor environment, which people also have an effect on. The researchers believe that chemicals from self-care products such as deodorant, makeup, and hair spray may raise levels outdoors as they are dispelled outside by the ventilation system.
High-efficiency filtration systems were found to help keep down the concentration of pollutants in a building.
The purpose of the research is to identify all types of indoor air contaminants and recommend ways to design and operate buildings that control pollutant levels.
“If we want to provide better air quality for office workers to improve their productivity, it is important to first understand what’s in the air and what factors influence the emissions and removal of pollutants,” assistant professor Boor said.
At The Fifth Estate’s Happy Healthy office’s event earlier this year, air quality expert Adam Garnys from CETEC explained that perfumes and fragrances can cause a building to fail WELL accreditation, a health and wellbeing rating scheme.
“That’s from a rating scheme point of view, but from a real health point of view, certainly it does have an impact, I’ve banned them at home,” Mr Garnys said.
He said it’s better to look for the source of the odour rather than masking it.
“Fragrances are full of chemicals. Even some of the common ones like limonene – which is lemon oil – people have serious allergies to it. And do you need it? I guess that’s the question.”
Last week, 3D printer manufacturer RIZE became the first company to attain UL 2904 GREENGUARD certification for its RIZE One 3D printer. The certification, which addresses 3D printer particle emissions and safety, followed a multi-year study conducted by the Georgia University of Technology and UL, a leading global safety science company. Now, the Georgia University of Technology has revealed more about the findings of the study and the impact that 3D printing could have on indoor air quality.
Ever since the advent of desktop 3D printing technology, the question of safety has been a concern, especially regarding volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles (UFPs) in the surrounding air. The study conducted by the Georgia University of Technology and UL has arguably been one of the most comprehensive and in depth investigations into the topic.
The multi-year research project has sought to characterize 3D printer particle emissions in a controlled environment and identify solutions for 3D printer manufacturers and users. The most recent study conducted as part of the ongoing research looked specifically at the particles’ potential for toxicity.
A study published last month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology shows that there is indeed a health risk associated with the particles emitted into the air by FDM 3D printers. Specifically, particles emitted from 3D printers can have a negative impact on indoor air quality and can harm respiratory health.
In the study, the researchers collected particles created by the 3D printing process and conducted various tests to assess the risk and impact of the particles on respiratory cell cultures. As Rodney Weber, a professor at the Georgia Tech School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, said: ”All of these tests, which were done at high doses, showed that there is a toxic response to the particles from various types of filaments used by these 3D printers.”
The new findings build upon the team’s existing research which found that hotter printing temperatures resulted in higher emissions, meaning that higher temperature filaments, such as ABS, created more particles than filaments with lower melting temperatures, such as PLA.
Live cell testing
In the recent portion of the multi-year research project, the team partnered with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel to test the impact of the 3D printer emissions on live cells. These tests consisted of exposing human respiratory cells and rat immune systems cells to varying concentrations of the 3D printing particles. Interestingly, the tests found that both ABS and PLA had a negative impact on cell viability and that PLA actually prompted a more toxic response. However, these tests did not reflect actual exposures.
“The toxicity tests showed that PLA particles were more toxic than the ABS particles on a per-particle comparison, but because the printers emitted so much more of the ABS, it’s the ABS emissions that end up being more of the concern,” Weber explained. “Taken together, these tests indicate that exposure to these filament particles could over time be as toxic as the air in an urban environment polluted with vehicular or other emissions.”
Analysis of chemical characteristics
The recent study also found that particles emitted when printing ABS filaments had different chemical characteristics than the ABS filament itself. For users, this means that certain brands of ABS may have more particle emissions than others, depending on the additives in the material.
“When the filament companies manufacture a certain type of filament, they may add small mass percentages of other compounds to achieve certain characteristics, but they mostly do not disclose what those additives are,” said Weber. “Because these additives seem to affect the amount of emissions for ABS, and there can be great variability in the type and amount of additives added to ABS, a consumer may buy a certain ABS filament, and it could produce far more emissions than one from a different vendor.”
Another aspect of the study looked at which indoor environments would put users at the most risk. Commercial building settings—like a school or office—were generally found to have a lower risk of emission exposure because of better ventilation systems. 3D printers in a residential setting with less sophisticated or efficient ventilation could have a higher risk of exposure.
How to reduce emissions exposure
Thankfully, there is no need to immediately panic or pack up your desktop 3D printer. UL and Georgia Tech have released a handful of measures that 3D printer users can take to reduce the risk of emissions exposure. They include operating desktop machines in well-ventilated areas, using the lowest nozzle temperature possible (dependent on the filament), standing away from 3D printers while in operation and using 3D printers that have been tested or verified for low emissions.
With more comprehensive knowledge about how 3D printers affect out environment and our health, we can hopefully also count on 3D printer manufacturers to take emissions into consideration when designing new 3D printer models.
Circulating vitamin D levels affect the risk for respiratory symptoms related to indoor air pollution among children with obesity and asthma, findings from a recent study suggest.
Asthma, obesity and air pollution disproportionately affect urban minority populations, and rates of vitamin D deficiency are highest among the black pediatric population, according to the researchers. Therefore, in this study, they sought to determine whether personal vitamin D status in a predominantly black urban cohort of children with asthma mitigates the effects of indoor air particulate exposure and whether any differences exist according to obesity status.
The study included 120 children aged 5 to 12 years with asthma (mean age, 9.7 years; 55% boys; 95% black) from Baltimore who were enrolled from the Domestic Indoor Particulate Matter and Childhood Asthma Morbidity (DISCOVER) study from 2009 to 2015. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-[OH]D), asthma symptoms and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure during a 7-day period were evaluated at baseline and every 3 months for 9 months. The average BMI across all children was in the 71st percentile and 36% were considered obese. The mean PM2.5 indoor exposure was 38.2 µg/m3 and the mean 25-(OH)D level was 19.1 ng/mL.
Effects of vitamin D levels
Results showed that lower serum 25-(OH)D levels strengthened the adverse association between PM2.5 and limited activity (P for interaction = .003), trouble breathing (P for interaction = .054), feeling bothered by asthma (P for interaction = .03), having any daytime symptoms (P for interaction = .006), nighttime symptoms (P for interaction = .034) and needing rescue medication (P for interaction = .032) in children with obesity.
According to the data, low 25-(OH)D levels increased the adverse effect of PM2.5 on daytime asthma symptoms (ORPM2.5 = 1.26; P = .049 for a vitamin D level of 15.5 ng/mL), and the effect of PM2.5 on daytime symptoms became stronger with decreasing levels of vitamin D less than 15.5 ng/mL. A similar result was seen for the effects of PM2.5 on nighttime asthma symptoms in children with obesity with 25-(OH)D levels less than 16.4 ng/mL.
Conversely, at extreme levels of indoor air particulate pollution, higher levels of vitamin D protected against an increased likelihood for daytime asthma symptoms driven by PM2.5 among children with obesity (ORvitamin D = 0.87; P = .049 at a PM2.5 concentration of 52.5 µg/m3, with increasingly stronger effects at higher PM2.5 concentrations).