Do Plants Really Purify Our Air?

If you are on Pinterest as much as we are then you will have noticed lots of pretty graphics about how this plant can make you sleep better, these plants will purify your air and so on. But do they really? Or like so many other posts, is that fake?

We have even reported in the past that a certain few plants do purify your air as long as you have as many as are needed. But after some research and digging we have found some interesting information.

We are not scientist and can’t begin to agree or contradict any research done. But we can look at the facts.

Now I believe this all started from a 1989 NASA report that was intended for a space station. They were having problems with air pollution in their sealed crafts. So they researched how to fix the issue. They started with several different plants in potting soil and an activated carbon filter system in Plexiglas chambers. They then injected three different pollutants into these chambers. Some plants were successful and others were not. The three pollutants were benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. They not only tested these plants in the soil but also plants without leaves and then just the soil. There conclusion is this:

“Low-light-requiring houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters, have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings. This plant system is one of the most promising means of alleviating the sick building syndrome associated with many new, energy efficient buildings. The plant root-soil zone appears to be the most effective area for removing volatile organic chemicals. Therefore, maximizing air exposure to the plant root-soil area should be considered when placing plants in buildings for best air filtration. Activated carbon filters containing fans have the capacity for rapidly filtering large volumes of polluted air and should be considered an integral part of any plan using houseplants for solving indoor air pollution problems.”

A few years later in 2009, Kamal Meattle gave a Ted Talk about a few plants in a work space that cleared the air of pollutants. His stance is that only 3 varieties of plants will grow fresh air for all and keep us healthy. Per the 300 occupants in the office building they had to have 1200 of these plants. He states in the video that per person you need between 4 to 8 of each plant. So if you have a household of four people that is 48 of these specific plants. Do you have room for those 48 plants? We don’t unfortunately.

In 2014, Robert Pavlis wrote a very convincing article in the respect of gardening that plants don’t really purify our air. He talks in length about the false reports of those who pulled the highest percentage from the NASA report and said plants purify this amount without reading the report. Which unfortunately happens a lot in our society. He goes into the the different factors of the NASA report and how it doesn’t really prove anything. He reports even in their concluding statement which is in this blog that they said “potential” in how houseplants can filter our air. What I was most impressed with was the fact that he took the time to calmly and professionally answer all critics and questions at the bottom of the article.

These three reports have the most data and the most information surrounding this topic. Each is published and linked in this blog for you to come to your own conclusion. Each deserves to be read fully. And are actually very interesting. We have our own conclusion though. Keeping a quality air filter in your system and changing in regularly will keep your air fresh. We also love plants so we keep plants just because they make us happy. If they filter our air even just a little then all the better, if not then they are here to make our spirits happy!

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