Apparently Your House Plants May Not Be Improving Air Quality After All

Air quality has been a big topic of study and discussion the past few years, obviously because pollution levels have been of great concern around the world.  Obviously, air pollution leads to a handful of different illnesses, sometimes even affecting lifespan.  

As such, for many years it has been sometimes advised to keep plants in the home to help clean the air. Studies show that many plants have air-cleaning qualities that are suspected of refreshing air quality, at least in the wild.

But a new meta-review of a dozen other studies say that houseplants may not be as helpful as we once thought, at least not when it comes to indoor air quality.  The new report suggests that at least ten plants would be needed to clean the air in even a single square meter of floor space.  That in mind, the number of plants needed to effectively improve air quality in common outdoor-to-indoor air exchange systems common to office buildings would be 1,000 plants per square meter!

In all, then, Study author Michael Waring, of Drexel University explains, “The best way to have a healthy home is to try to reduce indoor emissions, ventilate well (especially when doing high impact emissions like cooking), and using filtration for certain pollutants (ie, particulate matter).”

Effectively, Waring advises it is best to think of indoor pollution as falling into three categories.  The first category is volatile organic compounds. These are gas-phase molecules emitted from a variety of common household sources including cleaners and building materials.  These particles often reside in the air, iteslf. 

The second category, he says, is known as semi-volatile organic compounds.  These come from chemicals common to flame retardants, pesticides, and plasticizers.  SVOCs tend to be stick and will often adhere to indoor surfaces; and they could stick around for up to many years. 

All that said, Warning also advises that this does not necessarily mean you should get rid of your houseplants.  While many houseplants may not clean indoor air under typical settings as had been long believed, they do have benefits.