It’s not rocket science — NASA research proves living plants reduce indoor air pollution

  • Air pollution is responsible for more than 40,000 early UK deaths each year
  • Indoor air pollution in our homes and offices is often overlooked
  • Poor indoor air quality may contribute to up to 99,000 deaths in Europe each year
  • NASA research proves living plants reduce indoor air pollution by up to 87% in 24 hours

By Daniel Atherton


We all know that air pollution is bad for us.

Well research has highlighted just how bad it is — and how living plants can help.

In February the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics released a report that examines the impact of air pollution on our health. It explains that air pollution is responsible for 40,000 early deaths in the UK each year, with links to serious illnesses including cancer, asthma and heart disease.

Indoor air pollution

When we think about air pollution, we often imagine industrial skylines with factory chimneys billowing plumes of smoke. However the report explains that indoor air pollution is another key but often overlooked problem – and that it "may have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths annually in Europe".

The report made a number of national newspapers and news channels including BBC News, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

At Inleaf, we often talk about the benefits of office plants in the workplace — with one of the key up-sides being that they improve the air quality in the spaces they occupy.

Most of the things that exist in your office environment are man-made. Carpets, ceiling tiles, paper and cleaning products can all give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia and others.

Living plants can help

You probably know that plants provide oxygen (which is helpful as we need that to breathe) but surprisingly research has shown they also remove these common but nasty chemicals, dust and mould from the air too.

The most comprehensive research into the air-cleansing effect of living plants comes from NASA, conducted over many years and published way back in 1989.

NASA’s Clean Air Study not only proved that living plants significantly reduce the amount of nasty VOCs from the air, it also catalogued which chemicals different plants removed — and to what extent.

The research is very comprehensive and clear – indoor air pollution is bad for you, but if you want to improve the air quality in your home or office — add healthy living plants.

It’s not rocket science!

By the way, if you don’t fancy wading through lots of scientific papers then you may prefer to look at the book How to Grow Fresh Air. It was written by Dr B. C. Wolverson who lead the NASA research.

Or — give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.