Chichester-born Major Tim Peake, is set to make history today as he prepares to become the first ever “official” British astronaut to carry out a spacewalk. To mark the occasion, we came across this great study carried out by NASA back in 1989, which aimed to figure out the best way to purify the recycled air in space stations.

The study looked into the most common indoor plants for filtering toxins and pollutants from the air and labeled them in terms of their effectiveness. The results have definitely stood the test of time, and we have highlighted the top five below.

English Ivy

The Hedera helix is a common houseplant that helps to filter airborne toxins from indoor spaces. Amongst others, it is effective at cleansing the chemical trichloroethylene, which is found in printing inks, paints, varnishes and adhesives. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. This evergreen climbing vine is extremely popular as it is relatively easy to take care of.

Snake Plant

Also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Devil’s Tongue, this ornamental indoor plant is a popular addition in homes and offices because of its unique variegated texture and upwards growing style. The Snake Plant is equal to the English Ivy in terms of air-filtering effectiveness, and just one benefit is that it can reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the air. This chemical is found in paper bags, paper towels, plywood paneling and synthetic fabrics, and can cause irritation to the nose, mouth and throat.

Red-edged Dracaena

The Red-edged Dracaena is popular for its unusual shape and slightly coloured leaves. It is great at filtering the air of the same chemicals as the previous plants, including benzene, which is used to make plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and detergents, but can also be found in furniture wax. This makes the Dracaena an ideal plant in your office space for improving focus and concentration levels, as the chemical can cause dizziness, headaches and irritation.

Peace Lily

This beautiful evergreen plant is widely regarded as easy to care for, even for those that don’t have a green thumb! According to the study, it is perfect for cleansing the air of all the chemicals studied, making it a well-rounded addition to your indoor space. The one chemical that this plant can filter that the previous ones can’t is ammonia. Ammonia can be found in window cleaners and floor waxes, causing eye irritation and coughing when exposed to.

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

The final plant at the top of NASAs list is the Florist’s Chrysanthemum. It is a popular perennial that people love to have in their homes and offices because it produces a number of wonderful blooms in a variety of bright and bold colours. Like the Peace Lily, it ticks all of the boxes; the plant is decorative and can cleanse the air of all the chemicals included in the study.

As well as the plants listed above, NASAs study discovered a number of other plants to be equally effective with certain chemicals. To take a look at these, click here.