Do Plants Really Clean Indoor Air?

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Plants have countless science-backed benefits in our daily lives aside from making our homes look vibrant and refreshing. I hate to break it to you but purifying indoor air is not one of them. You have probably heard of its benefits before or read a blog about it in the past. We all know that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. However, contrary to popular belief, plants don’t actually clean or purify the air. It is a common misconception that makes you hope it’s true.

Do Plants Really Clean Indoor Air? Here’s what scientists say:

It all started with a famous NASA experiment published in 1989 which states that indoor plants can purify the air and remove cancer-causing VOCs or volatile organic compounds. NASA researchers are at that time are looking for ways to detoxify the air inside the space station. Former NASA research scientist Bill Wolverton who led the plant study in 1989 has written a lot of books on the topic.

But then, new research was published recently in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology which debunked the whole myth. The researchers of this study conducted an experiment by putting a plant in a tiny container and exposing it to VOCs or volatile organic chemicals. They later found out that an indoor ivy plant can remove two-thirds of the toxic chemicals they were exposed to.

The problem is that our homes are not like one of those gaseous chambers in which the plants are placed during the experiments. It’s not easy to gauge how plants actually react to chemicals in the air when they are out in the open. While plants do help in removing toxins, they do it much slower compared to mechanical air purifiers.

It would take roughly ten plants per square foot to lower VOCs sufficiently to have an influence on air quality. That’s 5,000 plants in a 500-square-foot flat, a true jungle.

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While some findings are still subject to research, this claim does not necessarily mean indoor plants are useless. They do provide certain benefits to your health that can improve your overall wellbeing.

7 Great Benefits of Houseplants

1. Plants Help Improve Concentration and Productivity

A study done by the University of Exeter shows that there was a 15% increase in productivity rate when indoor plants are introduced in the office space. Students also tend to have more focus when there are plants in their study areas. They have a longer attention span than students who study in a room without the presence of plants.

2. They help reduce anxiety and depression

Having plants inside your home is relaxing and soothing. Oftentimes, we go to nature to seek relaxation and have a little break from the stress at work. When you have plants indoors, you will get easily relaxed even just by resting on your couch or watering your plants.

3. Taking care of plants is therapeutic

therapuetic gardenning

Horticultural therapy is a form of treatment in which therapists encourage gardening to help people improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Anyone suffering from mental illness or any type of condition that often causes stress and depression can feel better and improve over time through this kind of therapy.

4. Plants can beautify your space

Perhaps the most inexpensive way of decorating your home is by incorporating houseplants. Plants make your home come to life. Aside from its health benefits, it is also a great addition to make your house look refreshing and aesthetically pleasant not just to the eye but to the mental and emotional aspect as well. Regardless of your interior design style, there will always be a plant that first perfectly with your style.

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5. Plants improve your mood

If you’ve been feeling stressed and depressed lately, try to place a potted plant or even small succulents in your living room or home office and observe how it changes your mood. Everything that looks good lightens our mood and makes us feel positive throughout the day. A single potted plant can make a difference. When you feel stressed because of work, simply taking a break and watering your plant can do wonders for your mental health.

6. Indoor plants help decrease humidity

Aside from the fact that indoor plants make out homes look and feel more vibrant and refreshing, they also make our space comfortable by reducing the humidity indoors. You feel cooler when you sit under the shade of the tree. Similar to that, our interior space can also feel a lot better and comfortable with the presence of plants. They help reduce noise, shade the room from harmful UV rays, and maintain a moderate temperature.

7. Taking care of plants make your feel happier

Knowing how to take care of plants and having plants to take care of can bring you a sense of accomplishment. It makes you feel optimistic. When you get an indoor plant, you need to take care of it and keep it healthy. This simple task of caring, watering and giving it enough sunlight is enough to make you feel that little sense of accomplishment that helps to make you have a positive outlook in life.

Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder why many people want to have indoor plants at home. When the pandemic hit the world, people turn to hobbies like gardening, cultivating their own food, and growing plants indoors. This is most likely because we all want to have a break from the stress and anxiety that’s brought about by the pandemic.

While plants do not purify the air in the way that we want to believe, as scientists have proven, it cannot be argued that they do bring great joy in our lives. Having a small potted plant right by our side can make a difference.

Keep in mind though that before you decide to have indoor plants at home, make sure to do your research about toxic plants that may be harmful most especially if you have kids or pets at home.

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