Air cleaning performance of two species of potted plants and different substrates

Tatiana Armijos-Moya*, Pieter de Visser, Marc Ottelé, Andy van den Dobbelsteen, Philomena M. Bluyssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Potted plants have been reported to uptake VOCs and help “cleaning” the air. This paper presents the results of a laboratory study in which two species of plants (peace lily and Boston fern) and three kinds of substrates (expanded clay, soil, and activated carbon) were tested and monitored on their capacity to deplete formaldehyde and CO2 in a glass chamber. Formaldehyde and CO2 were selected as indicators to evaluate the biofiltration efficacy of 28 different test conditions; relative humidity (RH) and temperature (T) were monitored during the experiments. To evaluate the efficacy of every test, the clean air delivery rate (CADR) was calculated. Overall, soil had the best performance in removing formaldehyde (~0.07–0.16 m3/h), while plants, in particular, were more effective in reducing CO2 concentrations (peace lily 0.01m3/h) (Boston fern 0.02–0.03 m3/h). On average, plants (~0.03 m3/h) were as effective as dry expanded clay (0.02–0.04 m3/h) in depleting formaldehyde from the chamber. Regarding air-cleaning performance, Boston ferns presented the best performance among the plant species, and the best performing substrate was the soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number284
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Botanical biofiltration
  • Clean air delivery rate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Indoor air quality
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plant monitoring


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