Health

Purifying the air with houseplants

July 19, 2022
8 minute read
Andrew Farquharson

Lots of lush and green houseplants have been a consistent trend in home interior design, but did you know that they can also provide more than just good looks?  

Much like the extraordinary ability of woodland, rainforests, and green areas to act as natural carbon capture on a mass scale, houseplants have the ability to absorb toxins from indoor air. Not just that, but many also pump out clean oxygen as a result.

How does this work?

Each indoor plant is an individual hard worker - they help filter the air through the process of photosynthesis. Using sunlight as a trigger for photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen, which they then pump back out into the air. Aside from absorbing carbon dioxide, many can also absorb common household chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. You might be surprised to know that household paints, fabrics, cosmetics, and other products emit low levels of chemicals into the air. Whilst these levels are tested and well within safe limits, houseplants can act as an air purifying mechanism for people with allergies or respiratory concerns.  

Our favourite air purifying plants

There are lots of options to choose from, so whether you want to create an indoor jungle feel, or simply want to know the best plants for a good night’s sleep, here's a few of our favourites!

  1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

This classic houseplant might bring back memories from school classrooms, and for good reason – they are known to be mood-boosting and they remove airborne toxins such as ethylbenzene and formaldehyde. They also produce plant babies frequently, so you can boost your air quality by propagating and re-planting them.  

  1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

These are the perfect plants to position in your bedroom as they’ll release oxygen through the night – helping you breathe cleaner air as you sleep. They are known to filter formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and benzene from the air. It’s hard to find a better bedroom plant!

  1. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

These beautiful flowering plants can improve indoor air quality by up to 60% whilst reducing levels of mould spores in the air. They can purify formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene in the air.

  1. Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)

With its fabulously exotic name, this plant is a champion at removing toxins like benzene, toluene and xylene from the air. If you’re looking for a stylish plant that also helps clean your indoor air, then this one is for you.

  1. Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)

The entire palm family is well known for its air purifying qualities, and a particular favourite is the Parlour Palm variety. First popularised in the Victorian era it remains a firm favourite for removing formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air.

  1. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata)

This fern is a winning bathroom plant due to its preference for higher humidity levels and indirect sunlight. They have been said to remove more formaldehyde from the air than any other plant and they can also remove pollutants from car exhaust fumes.

Unsure where to start?

Houseplants are a great addition to a range of strategies aimed at reducing your symptoms. Many people use them alongside traditional electric air purification devices for additional impact. If this blog has inspired you to develop your own green thumb, then here’s some top tips to get started.

  1. Pinpoint what might causing your breathing or allergy challenge
  1. Investigate which houseplants can have added benefits to the air in your home
  1. Consider other forms of air purification, such as electric devices that can be stylish and cost-effective
  1. Look to reduce the amount of furnishings and finishes that emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  1. Be wary if you have pets or young children – some plants can be toxic if ingested

If you have any questions or concerns about your breathing, allergies, or a respiratory condition, get in touch with our friendly pharmacy team who can offer you advice and guidance.

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