Can Houseplants Really Improve Air Quality?

Can Houseplants Really Improve Air Quality?

More Tips

Can house plants improve the quality of the air in your home? It’s a surprisingly contentious topic. Even experts disagree on whether or not having plants in your home can change air quality. So, what is the truth?

It’s important to understand where the belief that plants clean air comes from. Likely, many people assume house plants are cleaning air because of the role trees play in improving outdoor air quality. Cities around the world use trees to regulate their air quality. And anyone who has spent time outdoors can tell you how fresh forest air is. 

The idea that plants can improve the air in your home may also come from a 1989 study conducted by NASA. NASA conducted the Clean Air Study in the hopes of finding a way to improve air quality in sealed environments. While many plants showed air-improving capabilities, indoor air is not the same as air in sealed spaces (or space stations). 

Since NASA conducted their research almost 30 years ago, many experts have conducted studies of their own. Many of the studies found that while potted plants can reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in sealed environments, they are not effective at removing them in rooms. There would need to be a very high concentration of plants in a space in order to make any difference. 

In fact, some house plants may actually contribute to indoor air pollution. Soil in potted plants can contaminate the air. The fertilizers in some plants can also be released into the air and while they aren’t harmful in small amounts they can still be irritating to people. Some indoor plants are even capable of pollination. Peace lilies, spider plants, and english ivy are a few indoor favourites that are capable of producing pollen. So if you have a sensitive nose or allergies, you should avoid these plants. 

The short answer to the question “Can house plants improve indoor air quality?” is no. Plants do not have a significant effect on the air in your home. But if you do have house plants, and swear they keep your home fresh, there isn’t any harm. Just don’t neglect other maintenance, thinking plants alone will protect you. 

So, what is scientifically proven to keep the air in your home pure? 

Air purifiers 

Air purifiers work to keep indoor air clean by removing particles and pollutants from the air. They promote circulation and most have fans to draw air from the room. Once they draw in air, they work to mechanically pull particles from the air. They pass it through a filter or series of filters and release air that is free of contaminants. Air purifiers come in a range of sizes and can be a useful component of any clean-air plan for a home. 

Vent and furnace filters

Vent and furnace filters work to improve indoor air quality by capturing airborne particles and preventing them from circulating through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and into the indoor living spaces. Vent and furnace filters capture a range of particles, including dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other airborne contaminants. These filters are particularly effective at removing larger particles that can cause respiratory irritation and reduce overall air quality. By capturing particles, filters prevent these contaminants from circulating throughout your home via the HVAC system.

Duct cleaning 

As we eat, sleep, work, and play in our home, all kinds of contaminants find their way into the air. Our HVAC systems are responsible for the filtration of these contaminants and for pushing air throughout our homes. Over time, many irritating particles get trapped in our duct system. The buildup of dust, dirt, and more in ducts can cause a range of issues. Dirty ducts means dirty air. 

Ducts can also harbour allergens such as pollen, and pet dander. Dirty ducts can become moist and lead to the growth of mildew and mold. Smells from cooking, pets, and smoke can also become trapped over time and lead to unpleasant smells. When the HVAC system is running, these allergens can be circulated throughout your home. 

Getting your ducts cleaned regularly can free you from all of these dilemmas. Clean ducts reduce allergens and contaminants in your home. It makes it easier to breathe and gives you peace of mind back. Regular duct cleaning can also extend the life of your HVAC system by reducing the strain caused by clogged or dirty ducts. This can save you money on repairs and replacement.

Houseplants don’t play any significant role in improving the quality of air in your home. While they don’t pose any threat, they aren’t a magic solution for fresh air. If you want better air quality, it is best to stick to scientifically tested methods. This includes getting an air purifier, frequently changing furnace and vent filters, and getting your air ducts cleaned regularly. 

Live in the Winnipeg area and looking for a reliable and trustworthy HVAC specialist for professional duct cleaning? Contact Whyte Ridge Furnace & Air Duct Cleaning. Our technicians are experienced veterans and have a proven track record in improving air quality!