Well, it’s not quite as simple as my title would suggest, unfortunately. But there are studies that show that house plants can help reduce particulate matter, including dust from the air! Those studies were done at Washington State university back in the 1990s.
As far back as the 1980s, NASA was experimenting with house plants as well. It thought that they might be useful on the International Space Station. As it turns out, they haven’t used them there, but NASA did come up with a list, which you can find here, of the best plants to clean the air.
Why is this important to those of us not planning to become astronauts? If you take a look at some of the plants, they are all common plants that can be found anywhere (sorry garden centers)–even the supermarket, in most cases.
And why should we care about this? Well, think about it? When was the last time we had a window open? Perhaps if we were lucky, we had a thaw and were able to open a window 5-6 weeks ago for a brief time. Otherwise, that’s the last time many of us were able to bring fresh air into our homes.
It’s been so bitterly cold over such large parts of the country (indeed, such large parts of the Northern Hemisphere, except, perhaps, where they might want it to be cold) that most of us have our homes sealed up as tightly as we can. Those of us who can might be burning wood fireplaces, wood stoves or pellet stoves for supplemental warmth (and so that our heating bills don’t rival the national debt).
But all of that contributes to, at best, stale indoor air, and at worst, polluted indoor air. Stay with me here for a second. Even if we’re not burning anything–no fireplace, no candles, no gas stove or oven, there are still dozens of chemicals being generated just from the business of living that we do every day.
Have you brought in any dry cleaning lately? What about what’s being tracked in on your shoes from what they’re treating our roads and sidewalks with? Are you printing anything from a computer? Even paper bags and receipts from a merchant can give off harmful chemicals.
I’m surely not saying you need to turn your house into a jungle to combat all of this. But would a house plant or two be such a bad idea? There are ones on these lists for every light situation and every level of neglect. Give it some thought.