NeoPlants Neo PX review: This plant isn’t as good as an air purifier

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Neoplants has one The catchy pitch: a vibrant alternative to air purifiers bioengineered to rid the home of toxic vapors known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Its first product, the Neo PX, claims to be 30 times more efficient at purifying air than a regular houseplant. It arrived at my home in a sturdy cardboard box.

These are big claims in a small box. This plant system, about a foot tall, is being touted as the “first bioengineered air purifier for your home.” From the company’s Instagram and marketing materials, I assumed NeoPlants had genetically modified the pothos plant, increasing its phytoremediation ability to remove pollutants from the air. Scientists have done that, but the Neo PX uses a regular Marble Queen pothos. It’s the “Power Drops” — microorganisms made to live in the soil — that are bioengineered.

A self-sufficient plant

A potted plant in a beige holder in a small corner with a white wall behind it

Photo: Lisa Wood Shapiro

The beige shell that comes with the plant is made of thermoplastic polyester polylactic acid (PLA) and has a design that is attractive enough to blend in easily with a variety of interior styles. PLA is derived from natural sources, and the shell of Neo PEX comes from flax.

It’s biodegradable in an industrial composting setting, like the one offered to New York City residents, but it won’t break down in backyard composting, and PLA decomposes in landfills at about the same speed as plastic. The planter is engineered for maximum airflow from vents on the top and bottom of the shell, though every time I shook the Neo PEX, a small amount of soil escaped through those vents.

Per the instructions, I filled the water well and put the delicate water gauge back into the planter. Next, I cosplayed as a botanist, mixing water and NeoPlants Power Drops in my Neo PEX glass beaker with the glass wand, and then I poured the potion over the soil. The whole process took about half an hour.

I had to move the Neo PX to several different locations to keep my cats from munching on the leaves. Pothos is toxic to pets and can cause mouth irritation, breathing problems, and gastrointestinal pain. I put aluminum foil around the plant to keep them away.

In the hand is a transparent beaker with a glass rod inside and a milky beige coloured liquid

Photo: Lisa Wood Shapiro

Claims

Is the Neo PX an alternative to air purifiers? First, the Plant is unable to filter particles from the air. Unlike the HEPA filter that uses the regulated accordion folded filter, the Plant cannot remove smoke, pollen and dust as well as those invisible tiny particles, PM 2.5, that can turn the sky orange and get into the deepest parts of the lungs. (A regular HEPA filter cannot capture vapors or gases, but it can do so when combined with a carbon filter.)

Neo PX is promoted as having the ability to filter VOCs by targeting three vapors: benzene, toluene, and xylene. This is done through the use of the company’s bioengineered Power Drops. Each Neo PX is promoted as having the air cleaning capacity of 30 plants, and in the company’s press materials, website, social media, and emails sent to me, NeoPlants cites a nearly four-decade-old NASA plant study as proof. In short, the NASA plant study found that in a closed chamber, smaller than a bathtub in size, plants were able to free the air from VOCs in a certain amount of time.

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