A NASA Clean Air Study in 1989 suggested that a list of about a dozen plants not only absorbed carbon dioxide and released oxygen but also removed some volatile organic pollutants. Though the study's results have proven hard to replicate, there is some anecdotal evidence that plants benefit overall health.
For the new plant parent looking for a breath of fresh air, here's a ranking that factors in ease of care.
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
The rubber plant is one of the primary plants in the NASA study. Its large leaves are credited with improving air quality, absorbing airborne chemicals, and eliminating mold spores and bacteria in the air. Incredibly forgiving, they grow in all kinds of conditions, including under-watering and dim light.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Ideal for houseplant newbies, the spider plant takes care of itself while also supposedly battling toxins like carbon monoxide and is non-toxic to pets. It also propagates well and can be repotted.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema family)
This plant is regarded highly for its high oxygen content and purifying air of harmful chemicals and toxins. It thrives in the shade but needs indirect sunlight and occasional watering to keep the soil moist.
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Known for its nighttime oxygen production, the hardy snake plant is also thought to remove toxins like xylene, toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde. Window light and watering once a week is all it needs.
Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens)
Highly regarded for its air purifying properties, the areca palm is considered particularly beneficial to those with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis due to its transpiration (exhalation of water vapor) rate. It needs filtered light and frequent watering.
Chrysanthemum (several varieties)
The colorful blooms not only liven up any room but come in several colors and types. They are also known to filter out several dangerous toxins found in household items, such as plastics and detergents. They need sunlight, so proximity to a window fed by sunlight is ideal.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)
This succulent is considered beneficial for skin conditions and is also known to tackle airborne chemicals and toxins. It needs sunlight and frequent watering.
Gerbera daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)
Among the prettiest houseplants, gerbera is known for its ability to produce high oxygen levels at night and remove harmful chemicals. It is considered beneficial for those with such respiratory issues as breathing disorders and sleep apnea. It prefers bright sunlight for much of the year and indirect light during winter; it requires regular watering and moist soil.
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
A popular houseplant since the Victorian era, the weeping fig is thought to control the levels of such chemicals as toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde in the air. It is a fussy plant that hates change, requires bright, indirect light and absence of drafts.