So far we’ve looked at plants that clean the air of TCE and benzene. Today we’ll look at formaldehyde. Unlike the other two chemicals, formaldehyde is still readily present in most of our homes and work spaces despite our best efforts. It can be found in all sorts of things from insulation and particle board furniture to grocery bags, waxed paper, tissues and paper towels. It’s used as fire retardants in our clothing and our furniture and as wrinkle resistant treatments as well. It’s even used in the glues backing our rugs! It too is found in natural gas if you heat or cook with it. It’s used in make-up products and nail polish–it’s pretty much everywhere around us!
Luckily, lots of plants remediate formaldehyde (which I wish I had known back when I had to take labs in high school and college since it gives me a splitting headache!) But now that I do know, I know how to cope if the carpet is being changed out, for example–and it really works!
NASA found these plants to be the top 5 best for removing formaldehyde from the air:
Bamboo Palm was the winner this time–it removed a whopping 76,000 plus micrograms (mcg) from the air over a 24 hour period. No other plant even came close to that number.
Janet Craig dracena was the next best plant–it removed over 48,000 mcg from the air.
The snake plant (sansevieria) came in third in this group. It removed over 31,000 mcg from the air. This is a good choice because it can live in a variety of light settings.
Dracena marginata came in next, removing over 20,000 mcg from the air.
And the Peace Lily removed over 16,000 from the air.
All of these plants are readily available just about anywhere and will grow just about anywhere. Of them all, I think the palm is probably the most finicky, simply because it needs more humidity than the rest to look good. But otherwise these plants are intermediate to low light plants that would do well in most home or office settings–but not in full sun!