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Clean Air Machines


Have you ever considered going indoors to “get a breath of fresh air?” It’s not as crazy as it sounds, considering the level of air pollution we experience daily from automobile engines, factories, asphalt plants, and pesticide use. A few well-placed house plants can make your indoor air safer to breathe.


Foliage plants are more than just decorative accents! NASA research has shown that foliage plants
“scrub” the air, removing toxins commonly found in homes and office buildings. Volatile organic
compounds known to cause allergic reactions, and even cancer or other serious health problems, have been found by EPA inside newer energy-efficient buildings. New building methods and products have led to what is called “sick building syndrome”, where vapors from toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, are trapped inside causing some people to experience headaches, asthma, and other allergy symptoms. Studies are still being made to determine if long-term exposure to these VOC’s can contribute to increased incidences of cancer.

How do plants “clean the air?” Plants naturally “breathe in” carbon dioxide during the process of
photosynthesis. As a result of this process, oxygen is released by the plants’ leaves. Room air is also drawn into the soil of a potted plant as the plant begins to dry. Microorganisms living around plant roots “eat” any air-borne pollutants with which they come into contact, breaking down their chemical structures.  The resulting pieces of chemicals are either taken up by the plant as nutrients, or remain harmless in the soil.


As a general rule of thumb, the larger the leaves, the more efficient the plant is at cleaning the air, but most plants are doing some good. Tests have shown that, while one plant is better at eliminating one chemical over another, an assortment of plants placed throughout an indoor space should make our homes and offices healthier. Potted plants are air purifiers that don’t require
batteries or a filter change.


Here are just a few of the plants that can make it easier for us to breathe:


Botanical name                                                              Common name
Philodendron oxycardium                                              Heart-leaf philodendron
Philodendron selloum                                                    Tree philodendron
Chlorophytum comosum                                               Spider plant
Aloe vera                                                                      Medicine plant
Epipremnum aureum                                                     Golden pothos
Aglaonema                                                                    Chinese evergreen
Brassaia arboricola                                                        Dwarf schefflera
Spathiphyllum                                                               Peace lily
Dracaena fragrans ‘massangeana’                               Corn plant
Sansevieria trifasciata                                                   Snake plant
Hedera helix                                                                  English ivy
Dracaena marginata                                                     Madagascar dragon tree
Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’                              Boston fern
Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’                               Janet Craig
Rhapis excelsa                                                              Lady palm
Dendrobium sp.                                                            Dendrobium orchid
Ficus benjamina                                                           Weeping fig
Chamaedorea seifrizii                                                   Reed palm


The Great Big Greenhouse & Nursery, 2051 Huguenot Road, Richmond, VA 23235
Phone (804) 320-1317 Fax (804) 320-9580 website www.greatbiggreenhouse.com