NASA’s landmark 1989 research on air purifying indoor plants focused on three common chemicals – benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. Vadoud Niri’s 2016 research on plant VOC uptakeat the State University of New York at Oswego examined the effectiveness of several popular species of air purifying plants at removing eight compounds: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, p-xylene, o-xylene, acetone, dichloromethane (methylene chloride) and trichloromethane (chloroform).
Exposing the plants to several VOCs at once brings the research a step closer to a typical office environment where multiple VOCs would be present.
The best indoor plants that clean the air, according to research by Niri and others, include:
Bromeliad (Guzmania lingulata)
Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis)
Also known as Warneckei, Dracaena deremensis removed 50% of formaldehyde, 52% of benzene and 10% of trichloroethylene from a chamber over a 24-hour period in NASA’s pioneering 1989 study. It also outperformed all four other plants in Niri’s study by removing 94% of the acetone from the air in its chamber.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)
Jade scored highest for removing toluene from the air in Niri’s lab tests.
Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aureus)
NASA observed similar results with the high concentration chamber. A concentration of 35 ppm trichloroethylene and 37 ppm benzene dropped to between 0 and 1 ppm over the same two-hour span.
Simply put, if you're looking to improve the IAQ of your building, consider adding a spalsh of greenery like these 5 plants to the office aesthetics.