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Pollution Busting Houseplants

August 24, 2016

Which houseplants are best for filtering out air borne toxins?


Swallowtail Garden Seeds public domain

Yellow and fuchsia-colored bromeliads and other ornamentals.  (Swallowtail Garden Seeds/public domain)


Pollution-busting houseplants. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Houseplants can help scrub toxic chemicals from indoor air. Analytical chemist Vadoud Niri at the State University of New York at Oswego wanted to know what plants were most effective. So he built a sealed chamber, and challenged five common house plants with various Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, including benzene, acetone and toluene. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, he reported that bromeliads were best overall.

VADOUD NIRI (State University of New York at Oswego):

The bromeliad plant was very good at removing six out of eight VOCs.


For removing acetone, commonly used as nail polish remover, the best plant was dracaena. Niri plans to test plants at nail salons, dry cleaners and other businesses, as well as homes and offices, to see if they’re as effective in real life situations as they are in the lab. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon