Can Indoor Plants Really Purify the Air?

Time and again, we all have been reading and hearing, bringing plants indoors is beneficial; one of the benefits being clean and fresh air. In the year 1989, NASA experiment revealed that indoor plants could filter the air of volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde (found in cosmetics, detergents, carpet cleaners) and benzene (found in plastics, cigarette smoke, pesticides). Later research found soil microorganisms in potted plants also scrub the air of toxic substances and pollutants.

Indoor Plants Purify Air

NASA also listed best indoor plants for purifying the air such as Peace Lily, Rubber Plant, Spider Plant, English Ivy, Sansevieria, Ficus Benjamin, Golden Pothos, Bamboo plant, along with other plants. “The Boston fern is one of the most effective plants that can clean the air from airborne pollutants.”

How Do Plants Purify Air?

● We all have learned in science class that plants use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. By absorbing carbon dioxide (Co2) and releasing oxygen (O2), plants make the air breathable.
● Phytoremediation is another process which plants carry out to control the contaminants found in air, water, and soil.
● Transpiration is the process of water exchange between plants and the atmosphere. During the process, a lot of pollutants and contaminants in the environment are cleaned.

How Plants Purify Air

Now the Dubious Question:

Can Plants Clean Air?

“Plants, though they remove volatile organic compounds and airborne toxins, they remove it at a slow rate that they can’t compete with the air exchange mechanism happening inside the building,” says Waring.

A dozen different studies over the years reiterate that roughly a hundred plants per square metre need to be potted to improve the air quality in your house beyond what windows or buildings air handling systems can do.

A reviewed research on the air-quality benefits of indoor plants showcased that in the real world--in your home and office--incorporating a few plants can purify your air doesn’t have much hard science to back it up.

Without question, plants do remove volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, transform gases into less harmful substances, but at a much slower rate that does not have a substantial impact on the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of your home or office.