Indoor house plants for air quality

Indoor Houseplants & Air Quality

Do houseplants and indoor air quality go hand in hand? Houseplants add to the aesthetics of our homes as well as help in reducing our stress and elevating our moods and energy levels. Studies have shown that we work and study better when in the company of plants. In winter, we benefit from the increased humidity plants provide. All year, we breathe easier as plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. What plants do not do is substitute for HVAC air purifiers.

In the late 1980s, NASA scientists reported that houseplants can scrub the air of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by absorbing the gases through their leaves, roots and the microorganisms in the soil of potted plants. VOCs are common toxins released by ordinary household products, such as paint, cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener, fabrics, and pesticides. You can include just about anything with a scent on that list. The problem with VOCs is that they are linked to many acute medical conditions (e.g. asthma, nausea) and chronic diseases, such as cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Do Houseplants Improve Indoor Air Quality?

The NASA report contained statements such as plants being, “a promising, economical solution to indoor air pollution,” and the media picked it up and ran with it, not considering that (1) NASA was trying to determine a way to improve air quality in spacecraft and space stations and (2) the plants detoxified the air under laboratory conditions. Plants were placed into small hermetically sealed environments. That is not how we live – there is an unimaginable amount of air flowing into and out of our homes. In fact, exterior and interior air change places about once every hour. That exchange is far more beneficial to indoor air quality than plants.

That being said, houseplants, in varying degrees, will remove some toxins from the air while they are beautifying our homes and lifting our spirits. Here we have some examples of low-maintenance plants that can make a difference in the quality of air in our homes—as long as we keep in mind that the difference is not as sweeping as we may have come to believe.

  • Elephant ear
  • English ivy
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Peace lily
  • Rubber plant
  • Snake plant
  • Spider plant
  • Weeping fig

Contact the experts at Northern Heating and Air in Queensbury for more information about how we can help can increase your comfort level and decrease your energy bills! From installation and maintenance of home heating systems, to water heaters, boilers and smart thermostats, our HVAC experts serving Glens Falls, Queensbury, Lake George, Saratoga, Clifton Park, Ballston Spa region work to make your environment and indoor air quality the best it can be! See our service areas, and call us today at (518) 745-0401 to schedule your appointment!

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