Do Houseplants Actually Filter The Air?

There has been a lot of debate recently around house plants, and what it is they actually do. Do they filter all of the carbon dioxide released, and create fresh oxygen to breath in? Or do they simply just sit in our living rooms and bedrooms and soak up the sun.

The Origin

Plant owners were first told about the health benefits of owning plants, by NASA in 1989. The space agency began conducting experiments, to see what exactly plants release into the air, when they are kept in enclosed spaces. One of their studies provided the result that plants do remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), when grown indoors. These VOCs are basically the bad smells emitted from items with a high chemical content, like nail polish. VOCs themselves aren’t necessarily bad for your health, but when inhaled in large quantities you may experience negative side effects, like a headache.

Eliminating VOCs

Every home emits VOCs, even if you use only organic products. If you open your front door, VOCs from car exhaust could enter your home. However, plants can aid in this process, but not necessarily for the quantity of VOCs produced.

Robinson Meyers, an investigative reporter for The Atlantic, delved into the ratio of VOC:plant. To eliminate every VOC in your home, you would need to select a plant for each square foot of your home. To put that in perspective, it would mean your home would need to look like a greenhouse or a flower shop. That is A LOT of plants. That doesn’t mean that plants don’t help you in other ways though.

The Joy of Plants

Owning plants brings a lot of people a sense of joy. This stems from nurturing a plant from a tiny seedling, into one that is robust and full of foliage. Scientists have compared this nurturing feeling to that of owning a pet, or even having a child. As soon as you have to care for something, it makes it special. As well, plants are very peaceful to look at and be around. They don’t talk, they simply exist. That means a lot of people feel a sense of calm when surrounded by plants, and are able to destress in their own little indoor sanctuary. The next time you look around your apartment or home, and wonder if you need a plant or two, the answer is “Yes”

Many people own plants that have little offshoots or seedlings. If you can’t afford to buy a plant from a store, ask one of your friends or family members to give you a seedling. You can grow the seedling in a cup of water, and then transfer it to a pot when it’s roots are nice and sturdy. You will have an indoor garden in no time.