Best Plants for Fighting Air Pollution

Did you know some plants are great for purifying the air? Learn more about how you can clear air pollutants in your home with plants!

Published on
January 10, 2024
Read time
Best Plants for Fighting Air Pollution


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Pollution has been a rising issue over the past few decades all across the world, as we’ve begun to see the detriments firsthand when it comes to our environment and health. Enacting sustainable laws and individual practices that are better for the environment such as recycling, less driving, and less technology are all helpful and well-known – however, more action needs to be done to reverse the effects of pollution. Although these actions have decreased carbon footprints, there have been many rises in pollution levels around the world.

From compacted cities to suburban and rural areas across the country, pollution has had detrimental effects on the environment as well as our health. Throughout the years, multiple studies have shown an increase in asthma in relation to the increase in pollution. The air quality that is present within regions with high levels of pollution can affect the human body in many silent ways.

Incorporating more plants in our lives may not solve our issues with pollution, but it can lessen the effects on our health and the environment. Going back to middle school science, plants have many benefits and play an integral role in maintaining our ecosystem. Research shows there is a correlation between fewer plants and more pollution, therefore, the more we nurture our environment and encourage plant growth, the less pollution we may experience in the future. 

Air Pollution vs Plants

Air pollution is the contamination of the indoor and outdoor environment by any chemical or biological agent that changes the natural characteristics of the atmosphere (World Health Organization, n.d.). The major contributors to air pollution caused by human impacts are construction, vehicles, gas-powered appliances and machinery, industrial emissions, fossil fuels, agriculture practices, wildfires, and more (AQI India, 2019). 

However, not all air pollutants are caused by human impacts on the earth but affect our health nonetheless. Naturally occurring air pollutants include dust, pollen, smoke, and mold (NASA, n.d.). Outdoor and indoor pollution can cause many respiratory issues and other diseases in the human body.

Research conducted by Stanford University revealed a correlation between air pollution and health detriments in San Francisco, California. Traffic-related pollutants like black carbon, nitrous oxide, and nitrogen dioxide have been very prevalent within the minority communities in this city (Lee, 2023). 

Another study conducted by a research team from UC San Francisco reported the link between early-life asthma and air pollution in minority children living within the city of San Francisco. The researchers found that air pollution exposure is a significantly higher risk for minority children and their communities (Fernandez, 2013). This means, people who live in densely compacted cities are at higher risk of developing asthma due to the high exposure to air pollutants.

A natural tool to combat air pollution is the increase of trees. Plants are used as a cleaning system for the environment through a process called Phytoremediation. 

Phytoremediation is a plant-based approach that involves the use of plants to remove elemental pollutants from the environment (Yan et al., 2020). Plants perform the action of photosynthesis where they intake carbon dioxide and output oxygen.

With this process, plants can absorb air molecules and regulate balance within the air, purifying air pollutants like carbon dioxide. Whether indoor or outdoor, plants are a useful tool in reducing the pollutants around us. 

Household Plants for Indoor Air Pollution

What many people may not know is that air pollution can be prevalent within the home. Indoor pollution commonly results from the release of gasses inside or near the home like tobacco smoke, wood, and gas-burning stoves. This means you could be acquiring respiratory and other related health issues inside your home. 

Although plants make a great decoration and room filler for a home, they can also act as an air filter for indoor pollutants. Here are some plants that can help purify and improve your home’s air quality:

  • Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is commonly known for its skincare properties, but it is also known to combat indoor pollution. The plant’s broad leaves actually work to improve the air quality within your home. It can absorb many indoor pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, which are chemicals that are commonly found in some household cleaning products and can be harmful to adults and children when consumed. Placing a few aloe vera plants within your home may help in refreshing the air quality and look within your home. 

  • Snake Plant

Although this plant is not commonly known for its benefits, the snake plant is great for improving indoor air quality. Snake plants are native to the region of West Africa and get their name from their snakeskin-like appearance with a bright yellow color on their margins. This plant is very low maintenance as it thrives in minimal lighting and minimal care conditions. 

Snake plants are particularly good at removing air pollutants like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, which are commonly found in a lot of household cleaning products and even furniture. Unlike Aloe Vera, this plant practices nighttime photosynthesis. It takes in air pollutants like carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Incorporating the snake plant in your home can help to create a fresher atmosphere and improve your overall well-being. 

  • Spider Plant

The spider plant is a herbaceous plant native to South Africa and is an antioxidant that removes many pollutants. This plant is also known to grow extremely fast and improve indoor air quality at high rates. Similar to the snake plant, the spider plant is very easy to maintain. The spider plant absorbs air pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, and benzene – all of which can be found in store-bought cleaning products and can be very harmful to the human body. 

In addition to improving air quality, the spider plant also regulates humidity levels found within your home. A study done by NASA in the 1980s shows that within two days, the spider plant had removed 90% of the air toxins found within a home. Whether you hang the plant or place it on a desk, the spider plant will enhance the atmospheric qualities of your home. 

A Better Place to Live

Where you live influences not just who you are, and your livelihood, but also your health. Where you live can have a significant impact on your health and the health of your family. Indoor plants may significantly reduce indoor pollution but they won’t eliminate all indoor air pollutants or protect you from exterior pollution. 

When finding a new home, it is important to be mindful of the location’s air quality. Pockets of greenery can act as natural buffers, decreasing the effects of air pollution and providing a cleaner air quality. Choosing a home with a balance between urban living and green spaces will help to create a harmonious environment that promotes healthy well-being for you, your community, and the earth. 

The best way to combat the things around us is to use things that are easily accessible. However, an area with severely poor air quality cannot be fixed without significant changes in laws and government interference. Pollution can be very dangerous and cause health complications in the human respiratory system. If possible, locations with high levels of air pollution should be avoided when searching for a new home. 

The use of certain cleaning products can also be harmful to the environment and our respiratory system. Implementing house plants such as aloe vera, the snake plant, and the spider plant may help improve your home's air quality for better well-being. 

Finding a good place to live is essential for your health and well-being. At Bridge Homes, we provide home rentals in desirable neighborhoods all across the country. Our dedicated teams offer rental properties with high standards of quality, cleanliness, and safety. If you are ready to find your new home, please visit our listings


Air Pollution

Asthma and air pollution in the San Francisco East Bay 

Early-life air pollution linked with childhood asthma in minorities, in study 

Here are the 10 Main Causes of Air Pollution

Phytoremediation: A promising approach for revegetation of heavy metal-polluted land

Top 10 NASA approved houseplants for Improving Indoor Air Quality

What Causes Air Pollution?

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