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The NASA Clean Air Study with[1]has been led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). Its results suggest that certain common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, helping neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome.

The first list of air-filtering plants was compiled by NASA as part of a clean air study published in 1989,[2][3][4] which researched ways to clean air in space stations. As well as absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, as all plants do, these plants also eliminate significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. The second and third list are from B. C. Wolverton's book[5] and paper[6] and focus on removal of specific chemicals.

NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. Other research has shown that micro-organisms in the potting mix (soil) of a potted plant remove benzene from the air, and that some plant species also contribute to removing benzene.[7]

Chart of air-filtering plants[]

Uvaria ovata I

One of the plants in this study is the Flamingo Flower.

Plant, removes: benzene[2] formaldehyde[2][5] trichloroethylene[2] xylene and toluene[6] ammonia[6] Toxic to dogs, cats [8]
Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) no Yes[5] no Yes no non-toxic [9]
Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) no Yes[5] no Yes no non-toxic [10]
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis') no Yes[5] no Yes no non-toxic [11]
Kimberly queen fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) no Yes[5] no Yes no non-toxic[citation needed]
English ivy (Hedera helix) Yes Yes[5] Yes Yes no toxic [12]
Lilyturf (Liriope spicata) no Yes no Yes Yes non-toxic [13]
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) no Yes[2] no Yes no non-toxic [14]
Devil's ivy, Money plant (Epipremnum aureum) Yes Yes[2] no Yes no toxic [15]
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa') Yes Yes[5] Yes Yes Yes toxic [16]
Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum) no Yes no Yes Yes toxic [17]
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) Yes[5][18] Yes[5][18] no no no toxic [19]
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) no Yes[2][5] no Yes no non-toxic [20]
Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) no Yes no Yes Yes non-toxic [21]
Variegated snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii') Yes[5] Yes[2] Yes[5] Yes no toxic [22]
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum) no Yes[2] no no no toxic [23]
Selloum philodendron
(Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
no Yes[2] no no no toxic[citation needed]
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum) no Yes[2] no no no toxic[citation needed]
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) Yes Yes[2] Yes Yes no toxic [24]
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana') Yes Yes[2] Yes no no toxic [24]
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)[25] no Yes[5] no Yes no toxic [26]
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) Yes Yes[5] Yes no no non-toxic [27]
Florist's chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) Yes Yes[2][5] Yes Yes Yes toxic [28]
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) no Yes[5] no no no non-toxic [29]
Dendrobium orchids (Dendrobium spp.) no no no Yes no non-toxic[citation needed]
Dumb canes (Dieffenbachia spp.) no no no Yes no toxic [30]
King of hearts (Homalomena wallisii) no no no Yes no toxic
Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) no no no Yes no non-toxic [31]
Aloe vera (Aloe vera) Yes[32] Yes[1] no no no toxic [33]
Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis "Janet Craig") Yes[1] Yes[1] Yes[1] no no toxic [34]
Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis "Warneckei") Yes[1] Yes[1] Yes[1] no no toxic [34]
Banana (Musa Oriana) no Yes[1] no no no non-toxic [35]


Most of the plants on the list evolved in tropical or subtropical environments. Due to their ability to flourish on reduced sunlight, their leaf composition allows them to photosynthesize well in household light.

See also[]

  • Phytoremediation
  • Eichhornia crassipes
  • Green wall
  • Rain garden
  • Dendrobium
  • Dracaena reflexa
  • Indoor air quality


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Template:Cite report
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Pottorff, L. Plants "Clean" Air Inside Our Homes. Colorado State University & Denver County Extension Master Gardener. 2010.
  3. Wolverton, B. C., et al. (1984). Foliage plants for removing indoor air pollutants from energy-efficient homes. Economic Botany 38(2), 224-28.
  4. Wolverton, B. C., et al. A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement: an interim report. NASA. September, 1989.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 Wolverton, B. C. (1996) How to Grow Fresh Air. New York: Penguin Books.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wolverton, B. C. and J. D. Wolverton. (1993). Plants and soil microorganisms: removal of formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia from the indoor environment. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 38(2), 11-15.
  7. Template:Cite journal
  8. ASPCA
  9. ASPCA
  10. ASPCA
  11. ASPCA
  12. ASPCA
  13. ASPCA
  14. ASPCA
  15. ASPCA
  16. ASPCA
  17. ASPCA
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wolverton, B. C., et al. Interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement: final report. NASA. September, 1989. pp 11-12.
  19. ASPCA
  20. ASPCA
  21. ASPCA
  22. ASPCA
  23. ASPCA
  24. 24.0 24.1 ASPCA
  25. American Society for Horticultural Science. Indoor plants can reduce formaldehyde levels. ScienceDaily. February 20, 2009. Quote: "...Complete plants removed approximately 80% of the formaldehyde within 4 hours. Control chambers pumped with the same amount of formaldehyde, but not containing any plant parts, decreased by 7.3% during the day and 6.9% overnight within 5 hours..." In reference to: Kim, J. K., et al. (2008). Efficiency of volatile formaldehyde removal by indoor plants: contribution of aerial plant parts versus the root zone. Horticultural Science 133: 479-627.
  26. ASPCA
  27. ASPCA
  28. ASPCA
  29. ASPCA
  30. ASPCA
  31. ASPCA
  32. "15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality". Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  33. ASPCA
  34. 34.0 34.1 ASPCA
  35. ASPCA

External links[]

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