Breathing Room

By Doug Schuster

There have been many studies of the benefits of having houseplants, including improved emotional state and stress levels, enhancing aesthetics of your space, improved healing time, and air purifying. All plants in some way contribute to air purification, but some are better than others. There was a study done by Dr. Vadoud Niri, a researcher at OSWEGO State University of New York, which studied popular houseplants and their ability to absorb VOC’s. VOC’s are volatile organic compounds; these include trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene, these VOC’s are commonly present in your home or office from paints, furniture, office equipment, and cleaning supplies.


In most buildings this problem is addressed through ventilation, this is costly and sometimes very difficult to implement retroactively. The study conducted by Dr. Niri shows that houseplants can contribute significantly to the purification of the air. The results exhibited that a Bromeliad was the most successful at removing several VOC’s  at high rates from the enclosed space.

Here is some reference material on the study done by Dr. Niri and a guide that NASA developed.

Dr. Niri Study of Houseplants and Removing VOC’s



NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants


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