Are Plants Good for Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality in Milwaukee, WI

Are Plants Good for Indoor Air Quality

February 2, 2023

We spend 90% of our time indoors, making the quality of our indoor air very important. According to a recent study from the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution has a greater impact on our health than outdoor air pollutants. Indoor air pollution has been linked to health issues like respiratory illnesses and allergies. It also causes lung and heart complications.

The best way to reduce indoor air pollution is to ensure that your home is well-ventilated and has an adequate supply of fresh air. Another effective way to reduce indoor air pollution is adding a few houseplants. Indoor plants are great for purifying the air by filtering airborne toxins and eliminating dust and other particles. They also provide more oxygen and moisture.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

A variety of things can pollute indoor air. Radon gas, poor ventilation, pet dander, dust mites, molds, and mildew all affect indoor air. Some of the other causes of air pollution include the following:

  • Cleaning Products: Cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which become airborne during usage. VOCs have been linked to health issues such as respiratory problems and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. To reduce indoor air pollution caused by cleaning products, choose less toxic products and use them in a well-ventilated area. Using natural alternatives such as baking soda or vinegar instead of chemical cleaners also limits indoor air pollution, thus protecting your health.
  • Tobacco Smoke: Tobacco smoke is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. It contains nicotine, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and arsenic. Exposure to these toxic chemicals causes everything from short-term irritation to long-term chronic diseases such as cancer, respiratory illnesses, and heart disease. Keep your home smoke-free to reduce the risk of exposure to these dangerous substances. Banning smoking in homes is an effective way to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Fuel Fumes: Burning fuels like gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and propane release carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These toxic fumes linger indoors for extended periods if ventilation is inadequate. It puts occupants at risk of headaches, dizziness, nausea, and long-term damage to the lungs and heart. To reduce indoor air pollution from fuel burning, perform regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances and check ventilation systems to ensure they are working properly.

The Link Between Plants and Indoor Air Quality

Plants improve indoor air quality through photosynthesis. It is the process by which plants use energy from sunlight to create carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis enables them to produce the food, oxygen, and energy necessary for their continued growth and development. During photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into glucose (sugar) and oxygen. Glucose fuels the plant’s growth and development, while oxygen is released into the atmosphere for other living beings to breathe. Indoor plants take advantage of natural sunlight from windows or artificial light sources such as fluorescent bulbs and LED lights.

How Indoor Plants Improve Air Quality

Several research studies conducted over the years have focused on the role indoor plants play in improving indoor air quality. These studies have shown that, among other things, indoor plants improve air quality by filtering VOCs from the atmosphere. Other research has shown that houseplants also help with removing nitrogen dioxide, which can be very irritating to the lungs and upper respiratory tract. The following provides a few more details about these studies:

  • Insights From Dr. Bill Cummings and Dr. Bernard Waring: In 1982, two scientists named Dr. Bill Cummings and Dr. Bernard Waring conducted a study on indoor plants and VOCs, published in “Interior Plantings for Interior Air Quality.” The experiment involved placing VOCs in a sealed chamber and measuring their levels with and without plants. The results showed that VOC levels were reduced by an average of 50% when plants were present. These findings prove that indoor plants reduce VOC levels in indoor environments.
    This research has been important for understanding indoor plants’ air-filtering abilities. It showed that VOCs lower when houseplants are present and emphasized the importance of having plants in the home. In addition to the VOC reduction research, Cummings and Waring examined the effect of indoor plants on air quality. They calculated each method’s clean air delivery rate (CADR) and drew a standardized figure. They realized that in comparison to other air purification strategies, plants remove VOCs at a slow rate, but the effect was still substantial.
  • A Study by Gubb and Colleagues: Research by Gubb and colleagues sought to investigate how potted plants contribute to removing nitrogen dioxide. Their experiment involved three common houseplants exposed to different conditions. They exposed the plant to light and another chamber without light. The study revealed that potted plants removed measurable amounts of nitrogen dioxide in the presence of light. The researchers concluded that different houseplants removed nitrogen at different rates based on the leaf surface area.

Indoor Plants That Help With Air Quality

Indoor plants are an excellent way to bring life into a home or office space. Various plants can survive indoors and adapt to the environment and low-light conditions. While there are many houseplants that can help improve your indoor air, the following are a few of the most popular and widely available.

  • Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata): The fiddle leaf fig is a beautiful architectural plant with bold green leaves. It prefers bright indirect light and slightly moist soil. It would be best if you watered it when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch.
  • Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum): Renowned for its vibrant green foliage, easy-care qualities, and drought-tolerant nature, pothos can thrive indoors with minimal care from the owner. Aside from aesthetic value, pothos reduces indoor air pollutants very efficiently.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum): Named for its spider-leg-like leaves, the spider plant is noted for its air-purifying capabilities and low maintenance requirements. Its long, thin leaves arch outward in a unique cascade, making it a visually appealing option to spruce up indoor spaces. These indoor plants are easy to grow and require infrequent care once established. They can survive in any environment with minimal light, moderate moisture, and occasional fertilizer feeding. However, spider plants are most content when placed near bright windows.
  • Dracaena: Dracaena plants are a good interior decorating selection. These lush, low-maintenance perennials feature long, straplike leaves. They appear in shades of green, yellow, or reddish brown on top of sturdy stems. They can grow up to 10 feet tall in good indoor conditions.

Contact us Today!

At Burkhardt Heating & AC Inc, we can provide you with indoor air quality solutions to improve the air you breathe. We also offer heating, cooling, and duct cleaning services to homeowners in Milwaukee, WI and the surrounding area. With over six decades of experience, our company prides itself on delivering quality services. We have a trained and certified team of experienced technicians to install, maintain, and repair home-comfort equipment and advise you on how to sustain quality indoor air. Contact Burkhardt Heating & AC Inc today to schedule an appointment.

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