Plant power: The three incredible plants that look good & improve the air you breathe

Virgin Radio

9 Mar 2022, 15:02

Credit: Getty

Go green: Not only do houseplants look gorgeous, but they also make the air around you fresher, cleaner and kinder on your lungs.

According to a new study by the University of Birmingham and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the humble houseplant has the power to decrease levels of pollutant nitrogen dioxide (from cars, lorries and power plants) by 20 per cent.

Three common houseplants - peace lily, corn plant and fern arum - were tested in areas containing the same amount of levels of NO2 in an office by a busy road and monitored for an hour.

Amazingly, all three plants removed 50 per cent of the NO2 detected, regardless of whether the space was wet, dry, light or dark.

Leader of the study, Dr Christian Pfrang, says that the plants showed ‘strikingly similar abilities to remove nitrogen oxide from the atmosphere'. 

He explained: "This is very different from the way indoor plants take up carbon dioxide in our earlier work. [That is] strongly dependent on environmental factors such as night time or daytime, or soil water content."

In a poorly ventilated, highly-polluted small office, five houseplants would reduce NO2 levels by 20 per cent, whereas in a larger space, three plants would remove around 3.5 per cent.

Dr Pfang explained: "There was no indication, even during longer experiments, that our plants released the NO2 back into the atmosphere, so there is likely a biological process taking place also involving the soil the plant grows in – but we don’t yet know what that is."

A high amount of nitrogen dioxide is bad news for people with respiratory diseases, like asthma and can ‘irritate and inflame the lining of your airways’ causing an attack, coughing or trouble breathing.

A spokesperson for Asthma + Lungs UK told Metro: "Children and older people are also more likely to be affected and develop a respiratory infection and may react more to allergens (any substance that triggers an allergic reaction, such as pollen)."

Best go green...