Indoor Air Quality and Plants

Indoor air quality and plants are related in that plants help improve air quality — indoors and out. Indoor plant air quality is better than indoor non-plant air quality. Everyone is healthier and more alert when indoor air quality is good. Plants are a great way to improve air quality and lift the spirits of the building’s occupants.

Indoor air quality is a major health concern that’s only now getting some attention. As buildings get tighter for energy efficiency, the pollutants that are created by the building materials, furnishings, and cleaners, the more the building’s occupants are getting sick. The pollutants cause reactions such as asthma, allergies, low energy, and mysterious illnesses. It is essential, then, that the pollutants be removed from the air so people can breathe easier. There are several ways to do this. Use of plants as air filters is an overlooked approach to cleaning the air. Indoor air quality and plants have a symbiotic relationship.

In order to understand the basics behind why plants can improve a building’s air quality, it’s important to know why indoor air is as bad or worse than the smoggy outdoor air. The air that is outdoors is normally able to be cleaned through natural means — plants, natural air circulation, and the sun. Nature’s process puts air back into balance if allowed to do its job. But, indoor air typically doesn’t get to balance itself because circulation is stopped, plants often aren’t present, and the sun is blocked from its intensity. Keeping the wind out of a building and sun muted is part of the building’s purpose That leaves plants as a tool that can be used to improve indoor air quality.
In a two year study, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors Of America found out that up to 87% of the pollutants in your air can be removed by bringing the right plants into your home (the right conditions must be present of course). The bottom line is that the plants are able to absorb chemicals and pollutants, cleaning the air naturally. They also help by increasing the humidity and the oxygen levels in the air, a plus all the way around.
Any plants that you have inside will help improve air quality, but certain plants do a better job than others. Plants to consider to improve air quality are:

  • Ferns
  • Peace Lily
  • Spider Plants
  • Mums
  • Daisies
  • Dracaenas
  • Palms
  • A rule of thumb to use is having one plant per hundred square feet of building. When using plants, ensure that you plant them in the right potting soil and that it’s loose; many roots will help absorb pollutants as well.
    Indoor plant air quality is better than when there are no plants. Plants help to remove toxic fumes you breathe in every day. This could include such things as tetrachloride, benzene, and even formaldehyde. If you think these toxins aren’t present, think again; they more than likely are present. Personal care and cleaning products have chemicals like these. Heaters and air conditioners produce harmful gases. Pesticides have them too. Mots of the pollutants introduced into a building can be reduced by the use of indoor plants.
    Improving indoor air quality will allow you to feel better, reduce or eliminate allergies and asthma attacks, and help you to enjoy the indoor environment. Think about plants.

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