Everything about the "NASA Clean Air Study" you should know & why you should consider investing in air purifying plants

by Azalea Kalina September 07, 2020

Everything about the NASA Clean Air Study You Should Know & Why You Should Consider Investing in Air Purifying Plants

If you haven't heard about the NASA clean air study before, well it might just save your life & we are here to share everything we learned from reading the 30-page document.


If you care about the quality of the air you breathe in you should invest in indoor houseplants to purify the air, & for optimal air quality, you should strongly consider investing in one indoor plant per every 100 square feet.

Air Purifying Plants for the Bedroom

If you're like the other 7 billion people on earth & spend most of your time working & sleeping indoors, investing in air-purifying houseplants is a no brainer for optimal health in your home & office. Of course, you can invest in an air purifier but those are expensive & in our opinion don't look as good as an urban jungle

One of our favorite quotes from this massive research project is in the introduction:

"Since human's existence on Earth depends upon a life support system involving an intricate relationship with plants and their associated microorganisms, it should be obvious that when humans attempt to isolate themselves in tightly sealed buildings away from this ecological system, problems will arise."

"The answer to these problems is obvious. If humans are to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, they must take along nature's life support system."

Man creates his own eco system covid mask

pc: 📸 @meltom 

If you feel inclined you can read the full study 30 page study by B.C. Wolverton, Ph.D., Anne Johnson, M.S. and Keith Bounds, M.S.

Nasa Clean Air Study

The Miami Jungle was inspired by this study on how we can grow our own clean air. The Miami Jungle quadrupled during the stay at home orders & quarantine of 2020, the plants turned out to not only help improve air quality but also mental health. 

The Miami Jungle

How did it all go wrong? When did we start losing our relationship with our environment?

It all started in the 1970s when there was a huge increase in heating and cooling costs and in an effort to curb those increasing costs, buildings created design changes to improve air energy efficiency and reduced fresh air exchange. 

We stopped allowing the air from outside to come in and trapped ourselves with these toxic chemicals.

It didn't take long for workers to start complaining of respiratory issues, sinus congestions, and headaches, this becomes very apparent when a large number of people are present in a confined place. 

This phenomenon is known as "sick building syndrome".

Clean Air Study

pc: 📸 @joelfilip

Those suffering from sick building syndrome report.

"Headache, dizziness, nausea, eye, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itching skin, difficulty in concentration, fatigue, sensitivity to odours, hoarseness of voice, allergies, cold, flu-like symptoms, increased incidence of asthma attacks and personality changes."

It reduces work efficiency and increases absenteeism. Most of the complainants report relief soon after leaving the building, although lingering effects of neurotoxins can occur.

The Solution to Poor Indoor Air Quality is Simple! Air Purifying Houseplants 

NASA Clean Air Study

pc: 📸 @luizcent

"The answer to these problems is obvious. If humans move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, they must take along nature's life support system."

Thus NASA & the Associated Landscape Contractors of America came invested in a study to discover a way to do just that.

NASA Clean Air Study

The 3 chemical used in the plant screening tests were: 

  1. Benzene 
  2. Trichloroethylene
  3. Formaldehyde 

In short. These chemicals suck & we live with them like an annoying mother in law that we can't get rid of. 

Benzene is present in many everyday basic items such as oils, inks, plastics, rubbers, gas, detergents, pharmaceuticals, dyes. 

Benzene is carcinogenic, inhalation has proven to cause diseases of the blood and lymphatic systems, and chronic exposure even at low levels causes headaches, drowsiness, nervousness, psychological disturbances, and diseases in the blood system including anemia and bone marrow disease. 

Trichloroethylene is used in metal degreasing, dry cleaning, printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes & adhesives. The National Cancer Institute considers this chemical a potent liver carcinogen. 

Formaldehyde is found in all indoor environments. You'll find this toxic chemical in foam insulation, particleboard, pressured wood products, consumer paper products, grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, household cleaning agents, wrinkle resisters, water repellants, cigarette smoke, gas, kerosene. This chemical irritates the eyes and respiratory tract and can cause headaches.

Thankfully NASA solved the mystery for us by testing these houseplants for the air purifying properties. Some indoor plants such as the peace lily will remove all 3 toxins. 

If you aren't a plant person, I recommend becoming one, it's fantastic, if you aren't sold then the easiest one to take care of out of all of these is the snake plant. You can water the snake plant, once a month, it's a drought-tolerant succulent and releases oxygen at night. 

But don't let me decide for you, analyze the data below, and make your own informed decision. 

NASA Clean Air Plant Study

Credit: Wikipedia

Common Name

Scientific Names:

  • Chamaedorea seifritzii
  • Aglaonema modestum
  • Hedera helix
  • Ficus benjamina
  • Gerbera jamesonii
  • Dracaena deremensis "'Janet Craig"
  • Dracaena marginata
  • Dracaena massangeana
  • Sansevieria laurentii
  • Spathiphyllum "'
  • Mauna Loa'"
  • Chrysanthemum morifolium
  • Dracaena deremensis "'Warneckei'"

NASA Clean Air Study

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So there you have it, folks. 

If you want to breathe in your co-working building, home, yoga studio, coffee shop & anywhere indoors then you probably have some plant picking to do. 

At the Miami Jungle we make it easy for you to order plants online from Amazon

NASA Clean Air Study

pc: 📸 @verstuftj

If you are an astronaut reading this, then you can email us, "grow [at] MiamiJungle.com, we'll send you a Topo~Chico plant propagation & maybe it will make it into outer space. 

Topo~Chico Propagations

Azalea Kalina
Azalea Kalina

Azalea Kalina is an indoor plant enthusiast, with more than 79 plants in her collection the air inside her home is pure AF. When shes not writing about plants she's indulging in some self-care which includes indoor gardening in her urban jungle & taking bubble baths with her hanging plants.