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Can Plants Really Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Can Plants Really Improve Indoor Air Quality?

If you are concerned about your indoor air quality, you may look online and read blogs recommending you buy indoor houseplants. The widely held belief is that houseplants have the power to remove a range of toxins from the air in confined spaces. The power of a houseplant to remove toxins from the air is usually related to several studies into the ability of plants to recycle unwelcome chemicals. Plants have been known to improve air quality and act as the lungs of the world, but can they have an impact on your home and workspace?

The study between houseplants and indoor air

We have been looking at the available materials to help us decide if houseplants can improve indoor air quality. Most online blogs and studies are based on a 1989 NASA study using houseplants to remove formaldehyde from a two-foot square box. The American Lung Association explains that the study is flawed and should not be used to support houseplants improving indoor air quality.

How is the NASA study, and others like it, flawed?

The answer is the conditions these studies use to replicate everyday life. Common houseplants were transported to space in the NASA study and trapped in small boxes equipped with a fan for air circulation. The results of the NASA study showed the plants were capable of removing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) from the air.

Although houseplants have been shown to remove dangerous chemicals from the atmosphere, their effectiveness in large spaces has been questioned. National Geographic explains the problem by comparing the conditions of a study with changes to indoor air quality is the inability to mimic office conditions. Trapping a houseplant in a confined space and pumping VOCs into the box does not mimic everyday life.

The recommendations from several experts in indoor air quality include using houseplants as part of a larger mechanical system. Using an HVAC system to filter particles from the environment is more efficient and provides a safer long-term approach to indoor air quality. The rate at which a houseplant filters the air is slow when compared to a mechanical system. By keeping an air purifying system maintained and the filters clear, your indoor air quality can be improved faster than using houseplants to perform the same task.

If you are ready to discuss your indoor air quality with our team of experts at Master Mechanical, call our office today to schedule an appointment.