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Do House Plants Really Purify Air and Reduce Indoor Pollution?

By: Buzz Staff

Trending Desk

Last Updated: May 01, 2022, 10:17 IST

House plants tend to calm the mind.

House plants tend to calm the mind.

House plants do make your indoor spaces more soothing, but new studies are questioning their other benefits.

Indoor spaces such as homes and offices have seen an inclusion of plants as part of the overall décor. One of the primary reasons this is being witnessed is that plants add a nice aesthetic touch to the place by sprucing it up. Another equally important reason why houses and offices have plants, or houseplants, is that they are believed to purify the air inside the space. Multiple studies have been done on the claim that houseplants tend to bring down the air pollution of the place. However, the ongoing discourse gained maximum momentum in 1989, when NASA published a study conducted by scientist Bill Wolverton, wherein, he claimed that household plants are an economical solution to indoor air pollution.

However, with time, the claim came under scrutiny and the research papers that followed seemed to have poured cold water on the idea. For instance, in 2019, a team of researchers at the Drexel University, Pennsylvania, published a study negating all the claims about houseplants being a replacement for indoor air purifiers.

Researchers claimed that all studies advocating this idea had one flaw in them. The problem was that all these experiments were conducted in sealed chambers in a lab. They argued that the standard rate of air exchange was much faster in a building than in a sealed chamber, and thus, the amount of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) the plant removed is erroneous, if real-life scenarios are considered.

In March, this year, another study surfaced from the grounds of the University of Birmingham, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. Researchers found that common houseplants when exposed to Nitrogen (one of the air pollutants), showed a reduction of the gas by “as much as 20 percent.” Another study claimed that one might need a full wall of plants to see a noticeable reduction of air pollutants from indoor air.


The discourse regarding the efficiency of indoor plant purifying is still open and the subject can still be administered a re-examination. But does that mean that you should stop installing houseplants and pots? No. Plants have many added benefits, apart from looking pretty and possible air purification. Plants tend to make the indoor spaces more hospitable and soothing. Plants tend to calm the mind, among other myriad benefits.

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first published:May 01, 2022, 10:17 IST
last updated:May 01, 2022, 10:17 IST