Numerous online articles claim that Peace Lilies not only serve as decorative houseplants but also excel as highly effective air purifiers. However, the internet often abounds with exaggerated health assertions. Is there scientific evidence supporting the notion that your Peace Lily can genuinely enhance indoor air quality, or is this just another overblown online trend?
Peace Lilies in pots do indeed absorb certain volatile organic compounds from the air, but the impact may not be significant enough to be of substantial benefit. Most research suggests that you’d require an impractical number of houseplants to create a noticeable air quality improvement. Natural ventilation in your building likely plays a more significant role in air purification than all your plants combined.
Why, then, does this misconception persist, and why do Peace Lilies frequently feature on lists of “Best Air Cleaning Plants”? We’ll delve into the origins of the Spathiphyllum plant’s reputation as a living HVAC system and provide an overview of the current research. Additionally, we’ll explore some genuine benefits of cultivating Peace Lilies. If you want to know how to care for your peace lilies during the winter then check out my recent article Peace Lily Winter Care ( In 7 Easy Steps ).
Peace Lily Air Purifier
When searching for information regarding plants and their impact on indoor air quality, NASA is frequently cited. In 1989, the agency initiated a study to investigate whether plants could enhance air quality in space habitats. NASA‘s concern revolved around the accumulation of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, within indoor environments.
Not all VOCs are harmful, but a significant number are, and they can accumulate rapidly within well-insulated spaces. This accumulation can lead to a range of health issues collectively referred to as “sick building syndrome.” Such concerns are particularly relevant for astronauts living in sealed space stations for extended periods.
In the NASA study, researchers assessed the air-purifying capabilities of ten different plant species within enclosed chambers. They introduced test chemicals, including three VOCs – benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene – known for their adverse health effects, into the air inside these chambers. Air samples were collected at 0, 6, and 24 hours following chemical introduction, revealing a significant reduction in VOC concentrations.
Among the plant varieties tested, the Spathiphyllum, commonly known as the Peace Lily, demonstrated notable efficacy, particularly in the removal of benzene. Approximately 80% of the benzene within the Peace Lily test chamber had disappeared after 24 hours. This is a likely reason why the Spathiphyllum consistently appears on virtually every list of “air-purifying plants” found online. If your peace lily is overgrown then check out my recent article Overgrown Peace Lily ( 6 Step Fix ).
How Many Peace Lilies Do You Need To Purify Air
Even when adjusting for the size difference between a small chamber and a full-sized home, it’s challenging to draw definitive conclusions from the NASA study. Unlike astronauts, we inhabit homes that are not hermetically sealed. Even well-insulated homes have some degree of air exchange with the outdoors.
This natural ventilation is the primary means through which our homes remove VOCs and other harmful gases. The amount of pollution absorbed by a few potted plants is minuscule in comparison to what naturally dissipates.
So, how many Peace Lilies would it take to improve the air quality in your apartment or office?
Surprisingly, there have been relatively few follow-up studies conducted in real-world settings since the 1989 study. Moreover, the results of those few studies are not particularly encouraging. The current best estimate suggests that you’d need one plant for every two square feet of floor space to achieve any noticeable impact.
If you can find a way to incorporate that many houseplants into your living or working space, by all means, go for it! And please do share some pictures. If you want to know how to care for peace lilies then check out my recent article Peace Lily Care ( In 6 Easy Steps ).
Peace Lilies Absorbing Radiation
While the articles suggesting Peace Lilies for VOC absorption have some grounding in scientific research, many other online claims are considerably more outlandish. For instance, you might have come across blog posts suggesting that Peace Lilies can absorb radiation.
Well, technically, every living organism absorbs a certain amount of the radiation present in its environment. However, your Peace Lily isn’t some kind of vacuum cleaner for radiation in the air. This concept doesn’t even align with how radiation behaves—radiation isn’t stationary like smog; it’s constantly in motion, manifesting as subatomic particles or bursts of energy.
We’re continuously exposed to radiation, mainly in the form of harmless electromagnetic waves that pass through us without discernible effects. Houseplants, including Peace Lilies, don’t absorb more harmful radiation than any other household item. Unless you were to cover your entire body in Peace Lilies, they wouldn’t significantly protect you.
In certain cases, homes may have issues with radon, a radioactive gas that emanates from the ground. However, plants do not respire radon, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Peace Lilies can reduce radon levels in your home.
Peace Lilies Produce Oxygen Only During The Day
One frequently mentioned health advantage of houseplants is the potential for increasing the oxygen levels in your home. The concept seems logical since plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, correct?
People often get particularly enthusiastic about plants that exhibit a unique metabolic process known as crassulacean acid metabolism, or CAM. Unlike most plants, which primarily generate oxygen during daylight while they’re photosynthesizing, CAM plants perform this oxygen release at night. This aspect makes them appealing choices as bedroom plants for some individuals, as carbon dioxide levels often rise when you’re asleep in a closed room.
Let’s clarify this from the start: Peace Lilies are not CAM plants. They produce oxygen exclusively during the day. CAM plants are typically found in deserts and must keep their pores closed during the day to conserve water vapor. Peace Lilies, being rainforest plants, do not require this adaptation.
However, there’s no need to be concerned about whether your houseplants are CAM or non-CAM. The impact of houseplants on oxygen levels is negligible and unlikely to have any significant effect on your health.
Health Benefits Of Keeping Peace Lilies
It’s true that having houseplants nearby seems to have positive effects on our well-being, even if they don’t significantly clean the air. The simple presence of a healthy Peace Lily can make you feel better.
And there’s solid evidence supporting the mental health benefits of houseplants. Being around growing plants is linked to reduced stress, lower anxiety levels, and enhanced creativity. In medical settings, patients with plants in their rooms tend to recover faster and require less pain medication. Having greenery in your office or home workspace can boost productivity and reduce the likelihood of taking sick days.
The benefits of having plants around are significant, but actively caring for them can be even more therapeutic. This hands-on involvement can help alleviate conditions like depression and anxiety.
The value of owning houseplants goes beyond mental well-being; it’s intertwined with physical health. Lower stress levels can lead to reduced blood pressure, an improved immune system, and better quality sleep, among other advantages. These are just a few instances, as ongoing research continues to unveil the intricate connections between emotional and physical well-being.
Do peace lilies purify the air?
In the realm of air purification, this plant is a true multitasker. As per the NASA study, peace lilies excel at eliminating various pollutants from the environment, including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia. What’s more, they’re quite resilient, with their noticeable wilting serving as a clear indicator when they require watering.
Is it OK to have a peace lily in your bedroom?
Peace lilies are not only aesthetically pleasing but also quite low-maintenance. They can thrive in low-light conditions, making them an excellent choice for bedrooms tucked away in dim corners of the house. However, they truly flourish in sunlight, so it’s best to provide them with natural light whenever possible.
Do peace lilies help with oxygen?
Peace Lilies are renowned for their exceptional capacity to produce oxygen indoors, rendering them an excellent plant selection for individuals dealing with allergies or asthma.
What toxins do peace lilies remove?
The Peace Lily, also known as Spathiphyllum, lives up to its name by not only effectively removing trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, but also by reducing ammonia levels in your indoor environment.