RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If you wan to keep your indoor air clean, houseplants are the way to go. Back in the 1980s, NASA scientists discovered that indoor houseplants were effective room air purifiers, removing an array of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from paints as they dry and from the glues in furniture, cabinetry, and flooring. According to a new study published in the American Society of Horticultural Science's journal HortTechnology, those same indoor houseplants eliminate another health hazard, indoor ozone, which can trigger chronic respiratory problems and skin irritation.
THE DETAILS: Snake plants, spider plants, and golden pothos were selected for the study of houseplants and ozone because of their ability to remove hazardous indoor air pollutants. The plants were placed in chambers, into which the researchers pumped ozone at concentrations of 200 parts per billion (ppb). Then they measured how long it took for the ozone concentrations to drop to less than 5 ppb in those chambers, as well as in a separate chamber that had no plants, and repeated the experiment three times over the course of two months. All the chambers with plants reached the 5 ppb mark faster than the empty chamber, but the golden pothos chamber reached it first, followed by the ones containing the snake plant and the spider plant.