Several lifestyle blogs claim that plants can help improve indoor air quality. But don’t be fooled—these claims tend to be exaggerated. The HVAC repair experts at R.A. Biel Plumbing & Heating have summarized the original study’s key points below.
The Original 1989 Study
In their search for ways to detoxify space stations, NASA conducted an experiment measuring the effect of plants on air quality. The study found that plants managed to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air, although new studies suggest the microorganisms in the potted soil played a part as well. From this evidence, researchers concluded that plants can purify the air.
The bigger and leafier the plant, the better its purifying abilities. However, scientists aren’t sure how many plants are needed to purify the air indoors. These blogs also gloss over the fact the experiment was done in a controlled laboratory setting. There’s no evidence of exactly how many air pollutants plants can remove in a real-world setting.
The Complicating Factors
Experts have also pointed out several factors that can hamper a plant’s ability to improve indoor air quality. One of them is the fact that photosynthesis is a crucial part of the air purification process. The scientists in the study made sure the plants got enough light, which is essential to photosynthesis. Indoor plants, on the other hand, don’t get nearly as much sunlight.
Implications for Homeowners
All of this means that plants alone are unlikely to make a significant impact on indoor air quality (IAQ). If you want to improve your IAQ, we suggest focusing on the air circulation in your home. Indoor air moves outside while outside air flows inside at least once an hour. The rate at which stale indoor air is replaced is faster than the rate at which indoor plants can purify the air.
One way of improving air circulation is routine HVAC maintenance. Blocked vents and air filters can hamper airflow, preventing stale air from exiting and fresh air from entering your home. Just make sure to hire an experienced HVAC contractor to take care of your maintenance for you.
Looking for an Experienced HVAC Technician in Your Area?
R.A. Biel Plumbing & Heating, a contractor with more than three decades’ worth of experience, offers a wide range of HVAC services, including air duct cleaning. To get a free estimate on new installations, call us at (505) 672-7888 or (970) 884-3358. You can also leave us a message on this form.