Well, indoor plants are much more than just decoration. Sure, they look nice, and some types of plants can even help reduce noise pollution. But, in the past years, it has become increasingly clear that they can also help improve indoor air quality.
Do Houseplants Really Clean the Air?
Perhaps, you have read some articles claiming effective plants can improve indoor air quality as most people believed. But, do they really work? The answer is yes but not well enough to impact a home or clean indoor air pollution.
Well, researchers in 1984 believed that plants were efficient in removing airborne Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are harmful air contaminants.
Many scientists have set up an experiment to prove it, but when they measured the amount of the absorb VOCs in the air around the plants, there was no significant change.
Michael Waring of Drexel University in Pennsylvania has done similar experiments with indoor houseplants and came up with the same results.
Plants perhaps can improve air quality indoor by removing particulates such as dust, air pollutants and pollen from the air, but they cannot remove VOCs such as paint fumes, cleaning fluids, perfumes, and food odors.
Bill Wolverton in his NASA study set up an experiment in 1989 that included two identical buildings. One building was sealed off and had no plants, while the other was left open with many plants inside.
Wolverton tested for chemical pollutants and found that indoor plants can remove organic compounds such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene, from the air.
Indeed, several different studies were conducted over seven years, proving the benefits of indoor plants on human health, and mental health.
However, many cases show that the air-purifying effectiveness of plants works best when there are more than 50 houseplants for every 100 square meters of floor space.
And that there is currently no way to remove VOCs quickly and effectively enough to really impact indoor air quality.
Scientists studying this problem have come up with some interesting suggestions. If you want to help improve the quality of air in your home.
However, research suggests that you can consider growing houseplants or building a green wall in your home.
Cleaning the Air Through Photosynthesis
Indoor plants can’t completely clean the air in your home, but they help purify and cleanse it by absorbing some toxins inside your home.
The process begins when leaves absorb the carbon dioxide found in indoor air and release oxygen. This is why, when you place your hand above a plant, the leaves will wilt—the plant needs these vital gases to survive.
However, there is another way in which indoor plants help to clean the air through the process called Photosynthesis.
What Is Photosynthesis?
It is a process by which plants change water and minerals into food, using sunlight as a catalyst.
Plants absorb certain pollutants harmful toxins such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) through the tiny pores found on their leaves.
When this occurs, the chemicals turn into their harmless forms and then evaporate away.
How does Photosynthesis help to clean the air?
Photosynthesis cleans the air, but only in a roundabout way. First, all plants need carbon dioxide to survive and produce oxygen.
With this process occurring indoors, the purified indoor air becomes filled with additional oxygen molecules—that is, if your home is sufficiently saturated with plants.
Of course, unless you are prepared to fill your home with hundreds of houseplants, the process is not enough to purify the air on its own.
However, it does help to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air.
Researchers found that one houseplant decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in a room by 1.3 to 2 parts per million, which is significant if you are looking for ways to cleanse your air.
However, to make a real impact, you need to add several houseplants or perhaps indoor gardening. One large plant is capable of absorbing up to 90 milligrams of carbon dioxide per hour.
This rate of absorption is only possible in a closed environment, such as a greenhouse or solarium. In other words, the number of carbon dioxide these plants absorb will diminish by a great deal once you bring them inside your home.
Though house plants cleanse the air by absorbing toxins and pollutants from within your home, they cannot remove 100 percent of these pollutants.
However, they can make a considerable difference in how often you need to dust, vacuum, and clean in general.