Most houseplants literally eat chemical pollutants, the same pollutants that pervade our homes and offices and are responsible for health issues ranging from sore throats to asthma, and even cancer. For less than the price of one visit to the doctor, houseplants can clean the air in your home or office.
If you think the idea of plants as health agents is just another traveling medicine show, it's not. This week, the Wall Street Journal again touted the benefits of houseplants as air purifiers and NASA has been doing research for decades on their potential as air scrubbers.
In fact, NASA's groundbreaking research on indoor plants found that they were so efficient at absorbing contaminants in the air that houseplants will be launched into space as part of the biological life support system aboard future orbiting space stations.
While research is continuing, several studies show that many common houseplants can remove various pollutants from indoor environments. Many experts feel that indoor plants will soon be seen as standard components of pollution-free homes and workplaces.
Indoor air pollutants can be broken into two groups: gases and tiny airborne particles. Remarkably, laboratory research has determined that indoor plants can effectively reduce health threats from both. Plant leaves are effective at reducing harmful gasses, while the soils, roots and accompanying microorganisms of potted plants are important in removing various particulate pollutants.
Modern homes can be a minefield of chemical hazards. Carpets, furniture, insulation, paint, paper and even fireplaces can emit pollutants.