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NASA Says to Keep Kid Friendly Houseplants

Plants can filter out five major air toxins including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia.
8 Feb 2016 – 10:51 AM EST
Be careful with the houseplants you choose Crédito: Dreamstime

We spend a lot of time in our homes, especially during the winter months. Although few of us really suffer from "sick building syndrome" in our dwellings, a few houseplants can boost air quality, add visual interest to decor and bring the outdoors inside. Additionally, little people often enjoy caring for plants which easily turns into a teaching opportunity for you. As great as all of this sounds, some plants and kids don't mix well. Many houseplants are harmful to little ones - and pets - so be aware before you visit your local greenhouse.

Have you heard of the NASA plant study? Although the research was conducted over 25 years ago, the study is still considered to be the most thorough and solid information out there about how houseplants can really clean up the air in our houses and offices. Interestingly, they discovered that the "plant root zone" is the most effective in removing air pollution.

Plants can filter out five major air toxins including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia. These toxins are all found in common household items including paints, plastics, particle board, paper, carpet pads, cleaners and more. They are all eye, skin and nose irritants and are linked to many health problems including nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing as well as liver cancer, anemia and bone marrow disease. Yucky stuff to be sure. Filter out that indoor air pollution with some greenery!

Three Plants to Avoid

At the very top of the list for toxin removal are Florists’ Chrysanthemum (aka Pot Mum) and Peace Lilies. Both of these plants filter out all toxins we're considering: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia. However, both plants are also poisonous. If you choose these toxin gobbling houseplants, keep them up high and very out of reach of kids and pets. <insert photo of peace lily from flickr>

Another popular houseplant is Mother-In-Law's Tongue (or Snake Plant) a spiky, tall plant that is easy to care for. This veg is also unfortunately harmful for kids and pets. It does remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene but not ammonia.

Three Great Plants for the Air - and Kids

Spider plants filter out formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene and are friendly for little people plus are very easy to maintain. This greenery does great as a hanging plant in windows and propagates via new hanging "spiders."<insert photo from >

Boston Fern helps to remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from your indoor air space but also purifies the air and is said to act as a natural type of air humidifier. It is considered to be one of the best houseplants for air purification. These plants like lots of light and plenty of water.

With its purple flowers, a Lilyturf makes a pretty addition to any home. This vegetation removes ammonia, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde from the air. The plant is capable of increasing oxygen levels as well. It's not a picky plant about light and is really tough.

NASA recommends placing one plant per 100 square feet for maximum air purification.

For more info on plants in the NASA's "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement" study, check out this infographic from Love the Garden.

Did your favorite houseplant make the NASA list? Are you worried about indoor air quality?