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How to naturally improve indoor air quality

air quality

In a city like Beijing, taking action for a better indoor air quality is essential. Why? Breathing polluted air is linked to a variety of health concerns, ranging from short-term allergies to serious diseases. Thus, when relocating to Beijing most expats either buy air purifiers or choose a residence with an integrated air purifying system. Both options are highly effective, but the purifying effect can actually be enhanced naturally - with plants! Plants doesn't only absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, they can also reduce various air-borne pollutants and chemicals. As a result, indoor plants can bring you a wide range of positive impacts; increased mood, productivity, concentration and memory. Plants can also reduce both stress and fatigue.

In this post, we introduce 5 plants with great effects on air quality that you can find in your local flower market!

English Ivy

The popular English Ivy (Headera Helix, 常春藤) is well adapted to indoor conditions as it is both easy to grow and adaptable. In Beijing, the English Ivy is more suitable for the winters than the summer since these plants are sensitive to high temperatures. Among many, this plant can eliminate benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

Peace Lily

With beautiful white flowers, the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum, 白鹤芋属) is a top choice for removing household toxins. The major air-cleaning abilities include elimination of, for example, formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia. Unfortunately, this plant can contribute to pollen and is toxic to both children, cats and dogs.

Bamboo Palm

The Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii, 袖珍椰子) is known for its elegance and possible height or 12 feet. In addition to its air filtering effects, this plant will also moisture the air which makes it perfect during dry Beijing winters. The Bamboo Palm can eliminate chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene and chloroform.

Snake Plant

The Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata, 虎尾兰) is a great choice for people lacking green fingers as it is one of the hardest houseplants to kill. Due to its preference of dry conditions, this plant will embrace Beijing winters. In addition, is can reduce both benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene.


In studies of air purification, the Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum, 杭白菊) has ranked the highest among a wide range of plants. This because the plant will reduce both ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylen. However, Chrysanthemums is toxic to both cats and dogs. Also, even though this plant is an air-purifying champion, it is not the best choice in China since it is commonly used during funerals and symbolises death (read more here).

Flower markets in Beijing

LaiTai Flower Market
Address9 Maizidian Xilu, Chaoyang district.

Liangma Flower Super Market
Address: 8 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang district

Read more

In 1989, NASA published the “NASA Clean Air Study”. The study investigated to what extent different plants could clean the air from three harmful chemicals; benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. In total, nearly 30 plants were included in the study. The result showed that two of the most efficient plants are Peace Lilies and Chrysanthemums (both mentioned above). Originally, the study aimed to find ways to clean the air in space stations. However, the study also gave indications for buildings. You can read the study here.



Louise Andren
Louise Andren

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