indoor air quality

Do Plants Impact Your Indoor Air Quality? Here’s What You Need To Know

Is it stuffy inside your home or apartment? Feeling like the air could be a bit fresher? Well, there’s good news even if the current problem is a bit inconvenient: there are quick and easy fixes available to you.

The average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors. If that seems like a lot, it is. While many of us pledge to spend more time outdoors and enjoying the natural air, most of us work, sleep, and do other daily activities inside – which means the quality of your indoor air is of utmost importance.

Because so many factors impact the quality of indoor air – cleanliness, pets, roommates/spouses/kids – it is something you should pay closer attention to. The concentration of pollutants indoors compared to outdoors can be amplified by as many as five times, which leads to indoor air becoming contaminated or polluted much faster.

Ventilation is important. A working, efficient central air system is also important. But we want to talk about something perhaps a bit more unconventional when it comes to keeping your indoor air clean: plants!

The basics of indoor air and why it’s important to keep it clean

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 4 million people die in the U.S. every year due to problems caused by polluted air.

Pollutants are everywhere, and sometimes they can be difficult to control if you aren’t aware of where they come from. Routine cleaning is a good start. Dusting, mopping, and regular laundry…all of these practices keep surfaces and clothes clean, which are two primary sources of dander and particles that can impact indoor air quality.

The EPA classifies indoor air pollutants in a variety of ways:

  • Combustion byproducts such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and environmental tobacco smoke.
  • Substances of natural origin such as radon, pet dander, and mold.
  • Biological agents such as molds.
  • Pesticides, lead, and asbestos.
  • Ozone (from some air cleaners).
  • Various volatile organic compounds from a variety of products and materials.

How do plants improve the quality of indoor air?

We’ve arrived at our all-important question.

And before we go any further, know this (slightly tongue in cheek): we’re talking about natural plants, not the artificial plants you can find on Amazon. Sorry!

What do plants do, exactly? Well during the process known as photosynthesis, they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and this happens only in sunlight. They also put carbon dioxide back into the air during cellular respiration, which is an important part of a plant’s life cycle because it allows it to stay healthy when there’s less sunlight.

What does all of this mean? Despite numerous studies over the years – some of which produced conflicting analyses – it has been widely determined and agreed upon that plants DO help purify indoor air.

A 2022 study from Curtis Gubb, of the University of Birmingham (UK) School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, concluded that indoor plants have some measurable impact on indoor air. 

Plants help purify indoor air by removing nitrogen dioxide

Gubb’s study determined that plants, to varying degrees largely based on their size, remove nitrogen dioxide from indoor air and in turn make it cleaner. 

Indoor office spaces are positively impacted by plants

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many office spaces were closed down due to the rapid spread of the disease. Close contact with coworkers, poor ventilation, and underreported symptoms all contributed to COVID-19 infections – which led to a quick adoption of “work from home” policies. Many companies remain in hybrid or flexible work arrangements today.

Gubb’s group found that office spaces with plants had cleaner air in most instances. 

Plants help reduce the number of allergens in the air

Plants naturally attract pollinators and other particles that may impact the quality of indoor air. Over an extended period, and with proper care (water and sunlight), your indoor plants will help make your indoor air quality better. 

Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t have regular maintenance conducted on your HVAC systems and ventilation – that is necessary – but plants provide some natural relief to the air, and they happen to look good too!

What are you waiting for? Give Uncle Mike’s Home Service a call today!

Maintenance is the No. 1 priority for homeowners – especially when it comes to ensuring clean indoor air (of course, your plants will help). You can schedule in advance, take care of this important item of business once or twice per year (depending on where you live), and have peace of mind that you’ll have heating and cooling when you need it most.

If your HVAC system hasn’t received maintenance recently, it’s time to give Uncle Mike’s Home Service a call.

You can call us at 844-900-MIKE, or fill out our online contact form to request a free estimate or schedule an appointment.

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