Indoor Air Toxins 101: Houseplants and VOCs

vocs houseplants

There’s an important relationship between VOCs and houseplants.

My personal favorite solution for reducing indoor VOC concentration is to introduce houseplants. Growing indoor plants is an excellent, inexpensive method for removing VOCs from the indoor air through a process known as phytoremediation. Studies by many scientists, including those from NASA, Penn State University, the University of Georgia, and other institutions, have shown that plants can absorb a long list of VOCs, including benzene, toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde. Once absorbed, bacteria on the plant roots convert the VOCs into nutrients for the plant. Most leafy plants can purify indoor air, and different plant species absorb different VOCs, so it is optimal to have several varieties within your home to cover all bases. Many plants have proven to be effective at removing VOCs from inside air (see below).

Common houseplants able to remove VOCs:

spider plants
Schefflera plants
purple waffle plants
English ivy
golden pothos
Aloe vera
snake plants (mother-in-law’s tongue)
peace lilies
corn plants
sentry palms

Choose a few plants to place in the kitchen, bedrooms, and living room. Take care of your plants as if they were pets. In return, they will protect you by producing oxygen and by absorbing VOCs from the air.

See all the posts in this series on airborne toxins in your home:
Indoor Air Toxins 101: The Basics of Indoor Pollution
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding How We Breathe
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor Air Toxins 101: The Dangers of Candles
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Reducing Indoor Black Soot
Indoor Air Toxins 101: VOCs, Asbestos and Lead
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding Mold & Health