Most people have heard at some point that house plants are good for your health because they can clean, filter and purify the air of various toxins and pollutants. A lot of people know that this has been proved by science, although Just a few house plants that clean the air in your office and homemost people don't know about the actual studies or which plants are best for the job.
Humans have always "known" plants did more than provide food for us or look good, but there was no real science to support this idea. It wasn't until The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began to think about future life-support systems so humans could live on the moon and other planets that the ability of plants to filter and purify the air was exposed in full detail.
NASA proposed that if humans traveled to inhospitable planets then small biospheres would need to exist in order to support them, much like a spacecraft provides a suitable environment for its passengers as they travel through space. The issue however was that at the time spacecrafts could only be used for short periods due to the quick build up volatile organic chemicals, coming both from the people themselves as well as various equipment and machinery used on the craft.
Between 1980 and 1984 NASA proved plants in sealed test chambers that were exposed to volatile organic chemicals could remove them from the air. Including formaldehyde which is found in, or used to produce, a multitude of everyday products, from fabrics and furniture to tobacco smoke and gas stoves. Numerous scientific studies have shown it is dangerous to human health, the US National Toxicology Program in 2011 even went as far as to label it as a "human carcinogen". In 1984 people were very excited by NASA's findings and as a result they funded significant research looking at house plants and their air purifying abilities.
Dr Bill Wolverton was one of the scientists brought on board to help research and study the effects of houseplants on air quality in contained spaces and produced some of the most popular and commonly referenced research papers about the topic.