Scroll through just about any trending Instagram account from the past decade, and you'll see it — a post with a room filled with plants. Bringing the outdoors indoors has been increasing in popularity over the past decade. In fact, you've probably heard the claims of how certain plants can help boost your mood and productivity.
But is there any truth to the idea of plants improving your indoor air quality?
Air Purifying Plants: Fact or Fiction?
First, let's get into how this rumor started. In 1989, NASA conducted a study to determine if there was a natural way to purify the air. The study began with researchers placing 12 different species of plants inside individually sealed chambers. Once the plants were isolated, they introduced three of the most common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene — into the chambers. When they returned 24 hours later, researchers recorded the levels of VOCs inside the chambers and found that the plants had removed 10-70% of the VOCs!
The problem with this study is that scientists were experimenting in a controlled environment. The sealed chambers were meant to emulate the conditions astronauts would be living in on space missions. Our homes, on the other hand, are not sealed, controlled environments.
Indoor Air Quality and Houseplants
So, while it's true that houseplants can improve the air around them, the 1989 NASA results can't be accurately replicated in our indoor environments. This means these "air purifying plants" may not actually affect our indoor air quality the way we have been led to believe. For one, our homes are much larger than the controlled conditions in a space shuttle. Second, our homes are open to outdoor air — meaning we're constantly introducing new pollutants, allergens, and other particles into our indoor air.
A 2019 study found that homeowners would need as many as 10 to 1000 plants per square meter to balance out the contaminants found in the air supply of the average home or business.
Indoor Air Quality Solutions You Can Trust
Houseplants may not be the secret to healthy indoor air, but the indoor air solutions from Standard Heating & Air Conditioning are! According to Aprilaire, controlling the humidity in your home can reduce the incidence of colds and flu. A whole-home air cleaner helps minimize airborne contaminants like viruses, asthma, and allergy triggers. Let's not forget about UV purifiers, when added to your system, can improve your overall indoor air quality.
Whether you're looking for a humidifier, UV purifier, or whole-home air cleaner, our Twins Cities area HVAC experts can help you handle your indoor air quality needs. Contact us online or by phone at (612) 324-1015 today!