Do Houseplants Really Clean the Air in Your Home

Do Houseplants Really Clean the Air in Your Home

There have been many articles published over the years claiming that houseplants can filter the air in your house and remove the unhealthy chemicals and other toxins. I have curated several of these articles on this blog. Often they include lists of plants which are best to use for this purpose. But now it seems that there may be some doubt as to how effective they really are. I found this article by Robinson Meyer on The Atlantic website which explains why this long held belief may in fact be untrue.

Houseplant

Houseplants have much to recommend them. They’re fun to care for, they look good on Instagram, and they express environmental angst through interior design. But one of houseplants’ most commonly repeated virtues holds that they’re not only living tchotchkes, but also little HVAC machines: Houseplants, allegedly, filter the air. The Sill, an online plant store that communicates its Millennial bona fides through chunky serifs and large splotches of white space, lists plant species by the airborne toxins they are best at removing.

For several years, research really did suggest that houseplants might cleanse the air of certain pollutants. But now most scientists say that’s not right.

“It’s such an alluring and enticing idea,” Elliot Gall, a Portland State University professor, told me. “But the scientific literature shows that indoor houseplants—as would be typically implemented in a person’s home—do very little to clean the air.”

Green spider plant

“My view is even harsher than that,” Michael Waring, an engineering professor at Drexel University, told me. “I do not think that houseplants clean the air.”

“A resounding ‘no,’” agreed Richard Corsi, a longtime air-pollution researcher, in an email. Houseplants do not clean the air “any more than an old pair of socks or baseball cap that I would hang on the wall.”

Greenhouse full of plants

Why the confusion? Big Succulent isn’t lying to you, though at this point the houseplant industry is cherry-picking data. But for plants to actually improve the air, even in a compact apartment, you’d need a concentration of houseplants that only the most dedicated plant lovers can actually achieve.

See more at The Atlantic