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Use these six house plants to beat indoor pollution

Which plants are best at reducing air pollution in the home?

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Plants can actually improve the air quality in your home. Fact. They might not be filtering out PM2.5 particulates, but you have an air filter for that. Where plants get stuck in is by breaking down and absorbing some of the other chemicals wafting around. Much of what is in our homes and what we do in them creates ‘off-gassing’, where organic compounds are released into the air. Think formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Breathe it in!

Thankfully, way back in 1989 Nasa conducted a study with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to see if plants were effective at breaking down airborne toxic agents for use in space stations. This got the ball rolling on further plant research by BC Wolverton, and the clever editors at Wikipedia have since merged the findings into a helpful table of plant-by-plant efficacy. We took the list to our beloved plant market, Laitai, in Liangmaqiao, to see which plants we can get our hands on here. Warning: all the plants listed below are poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep them out of reach of your furry housemates.

B = Benzene, F = Formaldehyde, T = Trichloroethylene, XT = Xylene and Toluene, A = Ammonia.

Peace Lily

Peace Lilyreal

Chinese Heping Baihe (和平百合)

Reduces B, F, T, XT, A

Water Plenty, every three days.

Price 80RMB for the size shown. The narrower the leaves, the pricier the plant.

English Ivy

English Ivy

Chinese Changchunteng (常春藤)

Reduces B, F, T, XT

Water Once a week.

Price 60RMB for the size shown, but prices can vary wildly depending on the size and your bargaining skills.

Variegated Snake Plant

Snake Plant

Chinese Huweilan (虎尾兰)

Reduces B, F, T, XT

Water Every two weeks

Price 20RMB for a plant, the pot shown has four plants

Red-edged Dracaena


Chinese Sansetie (三色铁)

Reduces B, F, T, XT

Water Every ten-12 days

Price From 80RMB; 750RMB for plant shown, pre-haggling

Flamingo Lily

Flamingo Lily

Chinese Hongzhang (红掌)

Reduces F, XT, A

Water Every three days

Price 70RMB

Devil's Ivy

Devil's Ivy

Chinese Lüluo (绿萝).

Reduces B, F, XT

Water Every five days

Price 20RMB

Where to get them? Laitai Flower Market 9 Maizidian Xi Jie (just north of US Embassy), Chaoyang district (6463 5588). Open 9am-6.30pm daily. 朝阳区麦子店西街 9号莱太花卉市场 (美国大使馆、女人街市场以北).