Title Houseplants purify air, but not as much as you’d think Degree of recognition International Media name/outlet Popular Science Media type Web Country/Territory United States Date 17/03/22 Description Opening up a window might be more helpful in regulating air quality, depending on where you live.
Stay-at-home orders and lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic led many to plant parenthood. Individuals became drawn to the care and keeping of houseplants, which have been shown to provide comfort and improve well-being during this ongoing harrowing period.
Some researchers turned to plants as well, assessing their potential role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in confined spaces. Experiments show that plants have the ability to reduce pollutants and airborne volatile organic compounds (VOC), so it’s sensible to assume that they can markedly purify the air. However, this isn’t exactly the case.
Houseplants can remove urban pollutants in indoor spaces
A 2022 study published in Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health found that potted plants in indoor spaces can remove nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a chemical compound that is “representative of polluted conditions regularly encountered in urban areas,” says Christian Pfrang, study author and associate professor in atmospheric science at the University of Birmingham.
The experiment involved three common houseplant species, Spathiphyllum wallisii, Dracaena fragrans, and Zamioculcas zamiifolia, grown under carefully controlled conditions. These plants were exposed to elevated amounts of NO2 in a 0.15 cubic meter chamber, allowing the authors to measure the removal of the pollutant in a one-hour period. About 47 to 62 percent of NO2 was removed within an hour, as a combined effect of the plant and its pot of soil, says Pfrang.
Older studies have shown similar results with different plant species and pollutants. For instance, a 1989 study led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that plants like Gerbera jamesonii and Chamaedorea seifrizii may remove VOCs like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Producer/Author CARLA DELGADO Persons Christian Pfrang