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Indoor Plants Purify The Air

Indoor Plants Purify The Air And Can Help With Asthma and Other Allergies

Indoor plants can brighten up a room and make it more inviting, but can they actually "clean" the air?   Studies by scientists at NASA, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Georgia and other respected institutions suggest that they can.


Plants are indispensable to human life.  Through photosynthesis, they convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, and they can also remove toxins from the air we breathe. The amount of leaf surface area influences the rate of air purification.


When you think of indoor health hazards, exposure to air pollution is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.  However, the air circulating inside our buildings contains pollutants like carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and carbonyls.  


The percentages of all these pollutants are all significantly higher inside than outside, and this can have a very real impact on our health.

The air circulating inside buildings can contain a cocktail of polluted air that comes into a building from outside mixed with pollutants from indoor sources.  VOCs are a group of chemicals that are released from plastics and synthetics. In your home or office, they can come from carpets, furniture, glues, computers, detergents, and paints.  


Heating, cooking, cleaning, smoking, perfumes, and furnishings are also all sources of indoor pollutants, which include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur oxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, which is found in fabrics, building materials, glues, and paints. 


These tend to build up indoors as they can be released from so many sources and because indoors, there is often poor ventilation.


Being exposed to Carbon dioxide (CO2) at levels above 800 to 1000 parts per million can produce feelings of stuffiness, loss of concentration and drowsiness.  If you're exposed to higher levels you'll probably become quite unwell. 


Almost all the carbon dioxide indoors is due to human exhalation but because world carbon dioxide levels are increasing so fast the rate is now getting really seriously high.  


These VOCs and other indoor air pollutants (such as ozone) have been linked to numerous acute conditions, including asthma and nausea, as well as chronic diseases such as cancer and respiratory illnesses.


The Good News - Plants To The Rescue

The good news is that indoor plants can remove VOCs 24/7 by absorbing and degrading air pollutants and releasing oxygen into the air as part of the photosynthetic process. 


Plants are notoriously adept at absorbing gases through pores on the surface of their leaves.  It's this skill that facilitates photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light energy and carbon dioxide into chemical energy to fuel their growth. 


Plants can also help manage carbon dioxide levels.  Various research groups have analyzed the effect of indoor plants on air quality in workplaces and found that in offices with plants, CO2 levels reduced by about 10 percent in an air-conditioned building and 25 percent in a building without air-conditioning.


Scientists studying the air-purification capacities of indoor plants have found that plants can absorb many other gases in addition to carbon dioxide, including a long list of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  


Benzene (found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener, and carpet cleaner)  are examples of common indoor VOCs that plants help eliminate and help with allergy symptoms.  


Indoor Plants Purify The Air - Here’s How It Works

You don't need a forest. Just one plant can help improve indoor air quality.  Just one plant in a room is fine; a single plants capacity to remove pollutants is absolutely phenomenal.

VOC levels in most dwellings and workplaces can contribute to sick building syndrome, which has been associated with headaches, dry eyes, nose and throat, a woozy-head feeling and nausea.

Researchers have found that plants can help to reduce the amount of sick leave people take. 


An indoor plant's ability to remove these harmful compounds from the air is an example of phytoremediation, which is the use of any plant — indoors or out — to mitigate pollution in air, soil or water.


Indoor plants remove pollutants from the air by absorbing these gases through their leaves and roots.  The microorganisms that live in the soil of potted plants also play an instrumental role in neutralizing VOCs and other pollutants. 


Some plants may actually not only remove pollutant but also improve air quality.  One such example is the peace lily that absorbs benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.  Another example is the dracaena or corn plant that eliminates xylene, toluene, benzene, and trichloroethylene. 


And one more example,  English Ivy, a climbing plant that can remove allergens such as mold and animal feces.  


While most leafy plants are adept at purifying indoor air, some of the plants that scientists have found most useful in removing VOCs include Japanese royal ferns, spider plants, Boston ferns, purple waffle plants, areca palms, golden pothos, aloe vera, and snake plants.


Different plant species, types of soil, lighting, temperature, and size can all vary the impact of plants on air pollution.  For example, the sunlight or temperature in a room can make some plants absorb more or less pollution and help with allergy symptoms.


Plants To The Rescue - Indoor Plants Can Help With Asthma and Other Allergies

Asthma attacks (worsening of asthma symptoms) can be triggered by allergies, which can temporarily increase the inflammation of the airways in a susceptible person.  If you can avoid coming in contact with the substance you are allergic to (allergen), you may be able to prevent symptoms of an asthma attack and help with allergy symptoms.


Research has shown that exposure to VOCs can aggravate and trigger allergic inflammations.  Good news, as we have already discussed above is that indoor plants, particularly those with large leaf surfaces, can reduce indoor VOC levels.


All this being said, it is important to keep your indoor plants clean so they “operate” at optimum levels, providing maximum air cleaning potential.  Here’s how to keep your houseplants squeaky clean and healthy


  • Dust those leaves!  Or better yet, wipe them with a damp cloth


  • Keep potting mix in its place with an ornamental mulch of river rocks or gravel.


  • Avoid using pesticides whenever possible.


  • Place saucers under each plant to catch excess potting mix.


  • Water plants only when the top half inch of the potting mix is dry, to prevent potential mold growth.


  • Remove any diseased, yellowed, damaged or fallen leaves.


The next step in creating healthier indoor spaces using indoor plants and the hottest trend in using indoor plants as part of home or office decor is living green walls, making strong use of vertical gardens to bring out maximum air cleaning benefits.

Indoor Plants Purify The Air - Call Inside Plants Today To Make Your Space Healthier


Inside Plants is the best indoor plant service.  Not only do we help you with best plants for your indoor areas, but we aso will take care of your plants on a monthly basis - no extra work for you!  


We come up with creative designs for both home and office using living plants to bring the freshness and beauty of the outdoors inside.  We employ certified landscape professionals who are experts in interior plant maintenance and design. 


In working with you, we collaborate with you on design and types of plants to make your vision come true.  We will implement the best care for your indoor plants' selection, whether you are looking for indoor plant rentals, sales, and maintenance, or plant design.


Call Us today at 951-371-4637 for a free consult.

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