Do Plants Help Indoor Air Quality

March 19, 2020

We all know the impact that trees and plants have on helping to clean the air in our environment. So, it makes sense that having plants throughout your home could help to improve its indoor air quality. In fact, NASA has performed a study in the international space station to see what impact plants have on cleaning the air. The results of this study confirmed that plants do help improve air quality, but there is a catch. This study was performed under an extremely controlled environment, and it would be impossible for most, if not all, homeowners to duplicate NASA’s results.

Why Is Indoor Air Quality Such a Concern?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the concentration of air pollution within our homes can be up to five times of that outdoors. As our houses have become more energy-efficient, they have also become more airtight. Once a contaminant is in our residence, it takes longer for it to dissipate from the air. And, once in the home, the contaminant may be continually recirculated throughout your house unless it can be contained in your heating and cooling system’s air filter.

Volatile organic compounds are a major health concern for many people. These substances are often found in synthetic materials used in flooring, furniture, carpeting, paint, and adhesives. Over time, VOCs turn into a gas that can make the air in your home unhealthy and cause illness. Other contaminants like pollen, pet dander, dust, dust mites, and mold can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems. So, it is important to try to reduce the levels of these contaminants in our houses.

Why Can’t Plants Completely Clean the Air in Your Home?

According to the American Lung Association, you would need to have 680 plants or more to replicate NASA’s results. You would also need to consider the following environmental factors used in NASA’s study:

  • Types of plants
  • Size of plants
  • Temperature in your home
  • Available light in your house

It would be impractical to have almost 700 plants in your residence. But, having a few plants in your home could improve its air quality, if only slightly. You would want to choose plants with leaves that have a larger surface area. Plants that are recommended for improving air quality within the home include:

  • Aloe Vera – helps purify the air of benzene and formaldehyde
  • Barberton Daisy – helps remove some VOCs, including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air
  • Broad Lady Palm – helps reduce ammonia released in the air from cleaning products
  • Chinese Evergreen – helps clean benzene and formaldehyde from the air
  • Chrysanthemum – helps filter benzene and ammonia that is often found in cleaners, glue, and plastics from the air
  • English Ivy – helps reduce mold and airborne fecal particles
  • Red-Edged Dracaena/Dragon Tree – helps remove trichloroethylene and xylene from the air
  • Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue – releases oxygen at night and helps filter benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air
  • Spider Plant – helps remove carbon monoxide and xylene from the air
  • Weeping Fig – helps reduce VOCs in the air like formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene

When selecting plants for your home, you must be careful to choose plants that are not treated by pesticides or other chemical compounds. You must also be careful that the soil does not introduce mold into your house.

If Plants Can’t Completely Do the Job, What Can?

Plants can only do so much for improving indoor air quality. Normal housekeeping can only do so much, too. If you are concerned about indoor air quality and its effects on you and your family’s health, there is more that you can do to improve it. The first place to start is to make sure that you are using a high-quality air filter in your heating and cooling system. We can recommend the best filter for your specific HVAC system that can help remove common pollutants like:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander

The best way to improve the air quality in your home is by adding an air cleaner to your HVAC system. Depending on the air cleaner, special filters or UV lights will cleanse VOCs, smoke, bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew from the air in your house. These systems require very little maintenance while greatly improving the air quality in your home. We can recommend the best air cleaning solution for your property.

In Shelbyville, you can rely on Macari's Service Center for all of your heating and cooling repair, maintenance, and installation needs. We service, install, and sell all major brands of equipment and are a Carrier factory-authorized dealer. Our expert team is ready to answer all of your questions about improving your home’s indoor air quality as well as offering maintenance services. Call Macari's Service Center for answers today.

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