For years, science said select houseplants were powerful enough to improve indoor air quality. Even to support or even replace an air purifier.
But is this a myth or fact?
To start, yes – houseplants are powerful. If you own them yourself, you have already seen some of the many benefits they can bring to your home – including natural beauty and life.
At first, your houseplant collection may have begun with the intent to liven your living space up a bit. You may have had one or two pots in your home in total. Then, after reading a few articles, you learned that plants actually have air-purifying capabilities and your collection quickly grew!
As did that of many homeowners around the globe.
Homeowners latched on to the idea that plants were a “green” solution to improving indoor air quality (IAQ). And because plants were so economical, they chose to use them in place of an actual air purifier.
Now, scientifically, everyone was on the right track here. After all – plants do have incredible air-purifying qualities.
But the question we’re asking here is not whether plants have these air-purifying qualities. It’s whether these qualities are strong enough to actually improve the IAQ in your home effectively.
A Brief History of Our Beloved Houseplants and Their Air Purifying Powers
Houseplants have been around for years – dating as far back as the early Greeks.
Over the years, they became decor, medication and food. But as science evolved, it became clear that houseplants were capable of so much more.
In 1989, a study by NASA showed houseplants as a natural solution to reducing indoor air pollutants.
Here’s how it went…
During this study, researchers placed a series of potted plants in small chambers with VOC (volatile organic compound) concentrations.
Over the course of a few hours and/or days, the VOC concentrations in select chambers significantly decreased. This discovery led scientists to conclude that these specific plants had air-purifying capabilities.
And so the world was off to purifying their indoor air quality with plants galore!
But then, as time went on, a new perspective came to light.
Although the science of the conclusion was correct – select plants can remove VOCs from surrounding air – the scale of the study came into question.
How would the results of the study change between the use of a sealed container and a dynamic home environment? Would these plants be powerful enough to remove toxins from a much larger, constantly-changing space?
According to Professor Michael Waring in his 2019 study, the unfortunate answer is no.
In his words, “This has been a common misconception for some time. Plants are great, but they don’t actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment.”
In Waring’s studies, he found that ventilation was a far more successful way to remove pollutants from the air than plants were. Whether through a natural form of ventilation, like opening a window, or a whole-house ventilator system, both are far more successful at flushing out unwelcome toxins.
In fact, according to Waring’s studies, you would need to have 10-1,000 plants per square meter of floor space in your home to compete with these forms of home ventilation.
So the answer to our question? No – unless you actually do have 1,000 air purifying plants per every square meter of your home, they are not effective in improving your indoor air quality. And they cannot replace your air purifier or whole-house ventilator.
But they do have many other positive benefits…
Other Positive Health Benefits of Houseplants In Your Home
Now, we are by no means telling you that you should throw out your houseplants.
Although indoor gardening may not be powerful enough to combat poor indoor air quality, they do have many other incredible health benefits!
1. Indoor Plants Can Brighten Your Mood.
Indoor plants are a great way to brighten your home and mood!
Besides the obvious factor of plants adding unique beauty and life to your home decor, they can also help relieve physiological and psychological stress
You see examples of this all the time!
> When a friend brings flowers to their sick friend.
> When you’re given flowers after the passing of a loved one.
> When a husband gives a wife flowers as an act of love.
Even the flowers you’re handing your mom for Mother’s Day this weekend are an example!
Individuals give these plants hoping that they will brighten their loved one’s day – making them feel seen, loved and special.
And, in more cases than not, they succeed!
2. Indoor Plants Can Improve Mental and Emotional Health.
Did you know that caring for indoor plants can help improve your mental and emotional health?
The process of nurturing a plant can be incredibly therapeutic. It can help reduce anxiety, ease depression, heal from trauma and de-stress.
This form of therapy is often called horticultural therapy.
Fun Fact: As young individuals interact with indoor plants, their autonomic nervous system (their body’s physical response to stress) relaxes.
3. Indoor Plants Can Improve Concentration and Productivity.
Working at a computer all day long can often cause brain fog and fatigue. But a few office friends like spider plants, peace lilies and dracaenas can help improve your concentration and productivity.
Studies have shown that indoor plants can help boost:
- Creative Thinking
- Spatial Processing
So the next time you’re feeling distracted, tired or unmotivated at your desk, take a trip to your local greenhouse! You might be surprised at how good you feel even after just walking through the isles of plants and appreciating the beauty and serenity of nature.
Take Advantage of Our Spring Indoor Air Quality Savings Event!
If you’re feeling tired, sick or even dizzy these past few months, your IAQ could be the culprit. And while we wouldn’t recommend buying a whole host of houseplants to fix the issue, there is another solution we’d suggest.
Like taking advantage of our spring indoor air quality savings event this May!
Save 10% on our Air Duct Cleaning Services and get $100 OFF our Whole-House Indoor Air Quality Equipment installations.
That includes the air purifier equipment and whole-house ventilator that we mentioned above!
*Offers to expire on May 31st, 2022.
*Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.
Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions is Hamilton’s Indoor Air Quality Expert!
Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions is always here to offer the best IAQ advice, products and services. Contact our team today for effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions that work for your home and/or office!