First, harmful substances and VOCs waft from countless sources in our daily lives, including adhesives, ceiling tiles, photocopiers, wall paint, furnitures, upholstery etc.
We can find the key to our answer from NASA’s experiment, they found that plants absorb airborne pollutants as part of their normal “breathing” process (CO2 carbon dioxide in, O2 oxygen out) and transport them to their roots, where microbes feed on and detoxify them.
As result we need to have in mind that that roots and the soil are very important for optimum results. I will talk about this in the future.
The scientists have measured the filtering capacity of specific plants by putting them into sealed chambers and releasing toxic chemicals, then measuring how much of each chemical remains at 12-hour intervals. The results have been stunning. They found that the most effective plants had a high transpiration rate and they emit more moisture into the environment. This is the result of a natural pumping action. As plants pull air down to their roots, they pump moisture out. They have also found that over time at least one plant, the lady palm, actually becomes more efficient at disposing of the gas.
Is recommend using a mix of plants, two or three plants in 8-inch or 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet of floor space. Now be aware that the more plants you have more excessive humidity you will get, which can contribute to the growth of mold and bacteria. To help prevent that, don’t let your plants sit in stagnant water. Once the water has drained through the soil into the tray below, remove it. Sub-irrigation planters are a fair option but you have to discourage mold from growing on top of the soil by covering it with moss or gravel.
My personal recommendation is to keep a plant on top of your work desk, on top of your night stand and next to your sofa which are your personal breathing zones.