Areca Palm, Sansevieria and Boston Fern are the most effective indoor plants for VOC absorption. Natural light, water and just a bit of daily care are sufficient to maintain them.

In the last article we reiterated how much pollutants present inside our house can harm and, in particular, we addressed the dangers of formaldehyde and the minimum harmful concentrations associated with it.

Previously, during our third appointment, we had explained what could be the possible solutions to maintain the healthiness of confined spaces or to reclaim a polluted environment: the two roads proposed at the time also represent the two simplest and cheapest systems to deal with or prevent the problem of indoor pollution, i.e. lower the operating temperature of our thermostats and keep the rooms airy.

Today we will talk about a third internal air purification system, which is also inexpensive economically speaking but more demanding as regards to the time or “dedication” you need to invest. Today we will talk about houseplants.

Indoor plants: an excellent cure for indoor pollution!

Some plants are excellent tools for regulating thermo-hygrometric comfort and act as a natural filter for many harmful substances. If positioned in places suitable for their growth, some specific indoor plants offer continuous and free air purification for a long time.

These plants were identified and studied for the first time through a NASA research, later published in 1984, aimed at solving environmental problems related to poor air quality inside the Skylabs during missions in space. From studies carried out in the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County (MS) by prof. Wolverton, about fifty plant species have emerged with noted absorption capacity of volatile harmful substances. Many of these are common houseplants.

The most effective are “Areca Palm” (chrysalidocarpus lutescens); Sansevieria (Dracaena trifasciata) and Boston Fern (nephrolepis exaltata “bostoniensis”). The Areca Palm works as a generic vacuum cleaner with poor selective characteristics with regard to precise substances, but with good elimination rates capacity for many harmful compounds; Sansevieria transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen through an inverted cycle, i.e. it can purify the air while we sleep if used at night in bedrooms; finally, the Boston Fern specializes in the elimination of formaldehyde.

Indoor plants work very well on the air quality, but to function well they must be healthy: these “friends” of ours give us a great help, but in return they need natural light, water and lots of care.

Architect Leopoldo Busa,
Expert in indoor air quality