From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published August 17, 2011 06:02 PM

Plant Purifiers

A NASA research document came to the conclusion that “house plants can purify and rejuvenate air within our houses and workplaces, safeguarding us all from any side effects connected with prevalent toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and also benzene.” Trees are often seen as part of the answer for improving the environment and slowing climate change. Tree leaves utilize sunlight and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Photosynthesis produces liquid sugars that go down into the root system to combine with soil water and minerals. Some of this goes back up the tree to produce more leaves, woody tissue, flowers and seeds or nuts. Some is stored as starch in the roots themselves, to be used during the winter or when the tree is stressed. The process of respiration converts these starches back into usable sugars, and also releases some carbon dioxide back into the air. Other pollutants can be removed too and are sometimes used as a design in remediation projects.


The NASA research study on air purifying house plants had the following examples:

Areca palm     

Lady palm     

Bamboo palm     

Rubber plant     


English ivy     

Of course for the amateur keeping a house plant is a problem.  Plants need, sunlight, fertilizer, and water in order to thrive.

What are the benefits in terms of carbon-banking of specific trees near? That can be estimated with a web tool called the National Tree Benefit Calculator. The calculator also estimates other tree benefits such as air quality, energy, stormwater and property value. It’s being applied to community tree inventories and other official uses.  The tree calculator is based on detailed study results for a sample of cities and adapted to traits of major U.S. regions.

The 2008 USDA Forest Service publication, Urban and Community Forests of New England, by David Nowak and Eric Greenfield, provides information of this kind.

Trees are relaxing, provide shade and oxygen, and consume potential pollutants and carbon dioxide.  It is  a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of people, industry and cities.

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