Can Plants Help to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Can Plants Help to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality is something that more and more people are starting to pay attention to, and with good reason. Studies have shown that the concentration of airborne pollutants is generally two to five times higher indoors than it is outside. This number could even be much greater in homes that stay closed for most of the year with the AC or furnace running.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to stop the pollution from getting inside the building in the first place. Most building materials, furniture, cleaning products, and other common household items give off numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, methylene chloride, and other potentially harmful chemicals. This means that the best you can do is look for ways to minimize the concentration of these chemicals. One method that many people turn to for this is filling their homes with houseplants. Still, the question is whether or not houseplants are actually effective at improving air quality.

The Facts About Houseplants and Air Quality

The first real study about houseplants and air quality was performed by NASA in 1989. In this study, the researchers were looking for ways to clean or to purify the air inside space stations, and their results did show that plants were actually fairly effective at cleaning the air and removing many harmful pollutants. Subsequent studies also showed that some types of houseplants were able to remove formaldehyde and other VOCs from the air.

However, it is important to understand that, like the NASA study, these additional studies were performed inside small, closed spaces. As a result, when similar studies were performed outside of testing chambers, the results were much less promising. In fact, the EPA noted that the typical house would need 680 plants to achieve anywhere near the type of results shown in the NASA study. Unfortunately, this means that plants aren’t really a practical solution for improving indoor air quality unless you basically live inside a greenhouse, and even then, there are still much more effective options.

More Effective Options for Improving Indoor Air Quality

One of the easiest ways to lessen the concentration of indoor air pollutants is to simply open your windows to create a through-draft for a few minutes every day or two. This enables you to replenish your supply of fresh air and to remove most of the stale, polluted air. Of course, this isn’t always practical during the middle of summer or winter. In this case, you can achieve similar results by running an exhaust fan or installing a mechanical ventilation system.

If you’re especially concerned about the air quality inside your home, it is well worth it to have an air quality test performed. This way, you can get a better picture of the concentration of various types of pollutants inside your home and how best to tackle the problem.

If the air quality test shows you have a high concentration of VOCs or other airborne pollutants and contaminants, you may want to consider something like a whole-home air filtration system. These units attach directly to your existing HVAC system in order to better filter the air circulating through your home. There are a number of different types of filtration systems available, but they all function in a similar way.

Mainly, they use an extremely efficient air filter that traps more than 90% of airborne particles. This includes allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander as well as most bacteria, VOCs, and chemical contaminants. Some of these systems also use charged particles that attract and capture particles from the air and surfaces inside the home.

Indoor Air Quality Solutions

At Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., we have been providing professional HVAC services to customers in Anaheim and Orange County for more than 40 years. Our team of certified HVAC technicians specializes in indoor air quality solutions as well as a full range of other heating and cooling services from installations to maintenance and repairs.

We carry a range of indoor air quality equipment including Bioguard Filtration and HEPA air filter systems. We also offer numerous solutions that can help improve your home’s energy efficiency, such as HVAC zoning systems, attic insulation, duct sealing, and more. For more information about how you can improve your home’s air quality or about any of our other services, contact Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. today.