The latest study found that the indoor concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoors. Their numbers have been increasing due to extensive use of synthetic construction materials, personal care products, and home detergents. This is particularly worrying as we spend most of our time indoors, especially now due to the pandemic, we work remotely without leaving our homes.
At this time of the year, keeping windows widely open whilst sitting at your desk in the knitted pom-pom hat is rather not an option (although imagine those video conferences!). Buying an effective air-purifier might not be the most urgent investment you may consider at this moment either. This is where the plants come to the rescue!
NASA’s famous Clean Air Study revealed that a number of air-purifying houseplants could detoxify your home from the pollutants that fill out our indoor air. What is more, the latest research by Delhi’s scientist Kamal Meattle (his TedTalk video below), discover that certain plants are able to produce such a high amount of oxygen and detoxify the air, so they can efficiently replace mechanical ventilation systems in business offices.
To give your home office a healthy breath of fresh air, we created a list of the best air-purifying home office plants to help you fight those nasty air toxins whilst filling the air with oxygen and a light, fragrant scent …
What are the most common indoor air pollutants?
Before we move to the list of the air-cleaning plants, let’s firstly understand which indoor air pollutants damage your health and how you can identify their sources to potentially minimise their presence in your flat.
Among most common toxins are carbon dioxide (CO2), benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene (TCE), let’s dive in…
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Carbon Dioxide is naturally present in our atmosphere and as it is excreted out during the process breathing by us (and our animals). A high level of carbon dioxide in your home means an inadequate supply of fresh air mostly caused by inefficient ventilation. In such a case, having a few good-sized houseplants should resolve this problem as plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, helping to combat the greenhouse effect.
How Carbon Dioxide can affect your health and wellbeing?
Higher CO2 concentrations can affect your respiratory system- the breathing. It will make you feel tired and sleepy and provide a warning for a possible build-up of other indoor air impurities.
Benzene exposure in the air, overall, comes from tobacco smoke, gas stations and exhaust from vehicles like cars and motorbikes as well as industrial emissions. Although exposure to benzene through drinking water and food also happens (especially among those living in cities), the highest level of exposure occurs through the air. If you live near a heavy traffic road, consider bringing a few of the plants mentioned in the article.
How benzene can affect your health and wellbeing?
Benzene causes anaemia and damage to the immune system. It is particularly dangerous to women. Those breathing high levels of benzene may cause irregular menstrual periods and ovaries size reduction. It is proven that long-term inhalation can result in the bone marrow and can cause blood diseases.
It is used widely by industry to manufacture building materials and isolations, wooden furniture (incl. fibreboards), and numerous household products like paints, coating or glues. It is also found in cigarette smoke.
How formaldehyde can affect your health and wellbeing?
Formaldehyde can cause skin rashes, headaches, irritation of the nose and throat while high levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers. Thankfully, there is a number of houseplants that can help you keep those toxins away.
Trichloroethylene is used in dry cleaning, printing, the production of paint and printing textile. You may also be exposed to TCE through the use of spot removers, metal cleaners, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers where TCE is used as a solvent.
How trichloroethylene can affect your health and wellbeing?
Trichloroethylene can cause faintness, headaches, confusion, euphoria, facial numbness, and weakness. Exposure to trichloroethylene is also connected with several types of cancers, especially the kidney, liver and lymphatic system.
The most popular air-purifying plants to be used in your homes study and their health and wellbeing properties
As humans, we have a biological tie to nature and a desire to stay outside. Having plants in your study will not only filter toxins, giving you a cleaner, more breathable air, it will also provide you with the connection to nature that we all subconsciously crave. Houseplants are also a great reminder of the significance of green living, and they may inspire you to stay even more environmentally conscious.
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Although not very popular as an indoor plant, this native to South Africa flower most effectively eliminates benzene and trichloroethylene from all the plants tested by NASA.
Barberton daisy is quite easy to maintain as long as you keep it in a sunny place (ideally next to the window so it gets plenty of natural light) and water it daily (without over-watering). In return, gerbera will not only eliminates that nastiness from the air but will also repay by blooming a few times a year with colourful flowers.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
Boston fern is a little higher maintenance- by keeping it in a cooler room with a higher humidity level and no direct light, you will give it optimal conditions for growth. Believe us, it’s well worth the care…
Thanks to its air-purifying qualities, the Boston Fern is said to offer real health benefits to those who suffer from dry skin, cough or throats. It will not only clear the air from those harmful toxins, but it will also improve indoor humidity levels by naturally restoring moisture to the air.
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
Dragon tree is 3rd most effective houseplants in air purification. It removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
If your home office has a window opening to a busy road, the red-edged dracaena could be the most suitable plant to buy. Additionally, by placing a few plants in a room, you can also increase air humidity level, which similarly to Boston fern, will help you with breathing. A study by the Agricultural University of Norway found that the use of houseplants will support decrease incidences of colds, dry skin, irritably dry noses and sore throats.
Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
Areca palm removes formaldehyde from the air and serves as a humidifier. It can produce up to a litre of water every 24 hours. If you suffer from allergies, asthma or any other breathing complications, areca palm would come to your rescue. Due to its humidifying properties, it’s also a great choice if you wear contact lenses or suffer from dry eye syndrome- it will keep your eyes moist, even during long working hours. To make it highly effective, Kamal Meattle suggests placing four shoulder-high plants per person.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
A long-time favourite among houseplant enthusiasts, also known as the White Sail Plant or Spathiphyllum, is able to filter out five dangerous toxins from the air- ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene. It helps to reduce the levels of mould microorganisms that grow in the home by absorbing them through the leaves and then circulating them to the plant’s roots where they are consumed as food. These plants make a gorgeous white flower when in bloom so they’re an attractive decoration for the home office as well.
Snake Plant (mother-in-law’s tongue, Dracaena trifasciata)
Although it’s mostly used in the bedrooms (it’s even called a “bedroom plant”) as opposed to all other plants, it’s converts CO2 into oxygen at night only, it could be a useful addition to your office plants collection too. It’s a great air purifier, which will clean your study at night so you could start the next day filled with energy. It can go for weeks without water and seems to flourish in just about any climate. Six to eight waist-high plants per person would be required to make it really effective.
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English Ivy is a great choice as a home office plant. Since it does well in a hanging pot, you can place it above your desk, while not presenting a danger to animals or children who might want to touch it. Similarly to peace lily, it is able to trap airborne mould microbes. All you need to do to cultivate it is to keep the soil moist and give it a little direct sunlight each day, and you’ll be remunerated with your own mould remover.
Money Plant or Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
Money plant is one of the easiest plants to maintain- but it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t require any care at all. To ensure it stays healthy and green, keep it in the place without direct light and water it only when the soil is dry.
It will purify your office air from synthetic chemicals like Benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene. Feng Shui specialists recommend keeping one plant near each computer, television, or WiFi router, which confirms that money plant could be a great addition to your now “home-office garden”:)
We hope that our collection of the best air-purifying plants for a home office will inspire you to fill your study with some of those natural air cleaners to make you feel rejuvenated with every deep breath you will take. And remember, they will not only re-purify the air and generate more oxygen to help you stay focus for longer, but the plants have also been linked to increased self-confidence, improved mood and sense of wellbeing. They will help you relax, stay calm and will contribute to the feeling of being happy.
Are you going to give it a go? Let us know in the comments below.