Cutting office pollution

May 2022

Where are you putting your five house plants?

House plants can help to cut air pollution in the office and at home by up to a fifth, says a new study backed by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Scientist said five small plants in a modestly sized office can reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by up to 20%. Researchers at the University of Birmingham tested three houseplants commonly found in UK homes that are easy to maintain and not expensive to buy. They included the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans) and Fern Arum (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). Each plant was put, by itself, into a test chamber containing levels of NO2 comparable to an office situated next to a busy road.

The team calculated that over a period of one hour all the plants, regardless of species, were able to remove around half the NO2 in the chamber. The performance of the plants was not dependent on the plants’ environment, for example whether it was in light or dark conditions, and whether the soil was wet or dry.

Lead researcher Dr ChistianPfang explained: “The plants we chose were all very different from each other, yet they all showed strikingly similar abilities to remove NO2 from the atmosphere.
“This is very different from the way indoor plants take up CO2 in our earlier work, which is strongly dependent on environmental factors such as night-time or daytime, or soil water content.”