The NASA Clean Air Study was a project led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to research ways to clean the air in space stations.
The study, led by Dr. B. C. Wolverton, found that some plants were effective at filtering out the likes of benzene, ammonia and formaldehyde from the air, helping to neutralize the effects of Sick building syndrome. They found certain tropical plants, which are commonly used as houseplants are quite effective in removing formaldehyde, trichloroethane, benzene and other pollutants from the air and replacing them with breathable oxygen.
The study further suggested that efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet (9.3 m2) of space, but was conducted under sealed space station conditions and research conducted since has shown mixed results in the home or office.
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Bill Wolverton, a former NASA research scientist, concluded in his study in 1989, recommends a minimum of one air purifying plant every 100 feet to remove multiple toxins from indoor air space, voc’s (volatile organic compounds) are common components of building materials but also found in carpet, furniture upholstery, adhesives, cleaners, glue, paint, plastics and detergent. Although 1 air purifying plant will purify 100 square feet, Mr. Wolverton suggests in his published book “how to grow fresh air” 10-15 air purifying plants in pot sizes 4-6-10 inches throughout your living or work space will purify 1,500 square feet-his favorite, the pothos.