Skip to Content

Do Plants Improve Air Quality?

Serving Families Throughout Clackamas
Plants in living room.

You’ve probably heard the rumors before — that certain plants are a great addition to your home because they can help clean the air! But where does this claim originate? And is there any truth to it?

History of ‘Air Cleaning Plants’

The background of the legend of air cleaning plants starts with a NASA report from 1989. In this report, scientists cite a study that tested 12 different plants to determine if they could purify the air of common volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The study began with researchers placing different plants inside sealed chambers and introducing three of the most common VOCs — formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. They let the plants sit with the VOCs in their chambers for 24 hours and recorded the remaining levels of VOCs. The study concludes with the assessment that the plants cleared anywhere from 10-70% of the VOCs from the chambers.

Do houseplants actually help air quality?

Many sources claim that certain species of plants can help to clear your indoor air, but recent data suggests that may not be entirely true.

In 2019, a study featured in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology concluded that the results from the original 1989 study (which stated that plants do, in fact, clear VOCs from the air) couldn’t accurately be replicated in the average indoor environment. The new study concluded that while houseplants do, in fact, remove VOCs, they aren’t able to do so on an impactful level — at least not on their own.

The results from the original study were conducted in a sealed environment, which isn’t comparable to the IAQ of our home and businesses, which have great ventilation and are generally exposed to more pollutants than a sealed chamber ever would. The researchers found that we may need as many as 10-1000 plants per square meter to fight the indoor air contaminants introduced to the average home or business.

Indoor Air Quality Solutions You Can Trust

Let A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical handle your indoor air quality needs! Our team can help you find the air purification or air filtration system that fits your needs best. Contact us online or by phone at (503) 694-3396 to schedule an appointment or learn more today!