Desk Plants That Clean the Air

Written by tanya khan
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Desk Plants That Clean the Air
A desk plant is decorative and functional. (small potted cactus plant image by Wimbledon from

Houseplants not only add colour and beauty to an indoor spot but also fight air pollution by absorbing harmful contaminants such as carbon dioxide and carcinogens, according to NASA scientists. The Colorado State University states that NASA researchers discovered certain houseplants to reduce indoor pollutants by 87 per cent in 24 hours. Use smaller ones on your office desk for both decorative and functional elements.

Gerbera Daisies

Small potted plants with flowers in a variety of shades including orange, yellow, pink and white that feature a strong air-purification system in the delicate bodies. Gerbera daisies (Gerbera Jamesonii) remove harmful indoor pollutants such as benzene and trichloroethylene that exist in common office items and cause serious health problems.

Benzene, a common solvent, exists in common items such as plastic, gasoline, inks, rubber and oils. It causes skin and eye irritations and contributes to leukaemia and chromosomal aberrations. Acute inhalations cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, tremors, irregular heartbeat, paralysis, kidney and liver damage and unconsciousness.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is used in adhesives, lacquers, paints, varnishes and printing inks. This harmful chemical is considered a potent liver carcinogen.

Desk Plants That Clean the Air
Gerbera daisies purify indoor air. (gerbera daisy image by Brad Johnson from

Easter Lilies

Also called peace lilies, these ornamental plants filter out the same harmful chemicals gerbera daisies remove. Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa") are relatively easy to grow. Add charcoal filters in its soil and place a small fan near the pot so it actively filters the air around you.

Desk Plants That Clean the Air
Peace lily combats air pollutants. (peace lily image by Ronnie Howard from


According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, this ornamental flower filters out benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene---three toxic chemicals common in offices---thus neutralising the effect of Sick Building Syndrome that causes health problems in workers. Commonly called chrysanths or pot mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium), these perennial plants feature showy blooms in a wide range of colours that spruce up the work space.

Formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that exists in almost all indoor environments. It is found in foam insulation, pressed wood products used in manufacturing office furniture, waxed papers, facial tissues, grocery bags, paper towels and commonly used household cleaning agents. This toxic chemical irritates the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and eyes, causing severe eye aches, headaches and asthma. It also causes a rare cancer that affects the throat.

Desk Plants That Clean the Air
Chrysanthemum filters three toxic chemicals common in a work space. (chrysanthemum image by b_elena63 from

Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Mother-in-Law's tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria Laurentii) is a leafy plant that does not commonly feature blooms. This easy-to-grow succulent is comprised of thick sword-shaped leaves that grow upward with some varieties edged in white. It combats formaldehyde from the office environment.

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