How do Plants Really Purify the Air? Research vs Real life

How do Plants Really Purify the Air? Research vs Real life

Every family is well-known for having plants inside. In addition to adding an accent of contrasting color that calms the mind and, most importantly, purifies the air in the space, plants offer beauty and charm to any decor.

Through photosynthesis, plants sanitize the air. Through its leaves, the plant takes in carbon dioxide, which then undergoes a chemical reaction with chlorophyll in the presence of light to make glucose (plant food) and oxygen that is then released back into the atmosphere.

Our homes are constructed of a variety of materials, such as paint, gypsum, and plastics, which when combined can produce the most beautiful decor in our living areas.

However, having these materials in our houses could not be free. It has been discovered that each of them releases traces of chemicals into the air we breathe. Some of which can harm our health and wellness and are poisonous.

Here’s where plants can help. It has been shown that they may filter the air just by performing their routine duties.

We will discuss the positive impacts of plants’ ability to purify the air by eliminating hazardous substances in this post. We will also discuss how air flow can help to reduce pollution.

Air Cleaning Benefits of Plants

By inhaling air through their pores in their roots and stomata on the underside of their leaves, plants purify the air in our living environment.

We breathe in oxygen-rich air because plants filter harmful substances like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced by various materials in our homes and offices.

Some of these VOCs, which are undetectable to humans in minute concentrations, include benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.

Additionally, research show that rooms with plants have 50–60% fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants.

The advantages of having plants in our living areas are as follows:-

1. Reduces VOCs in the air

According to a NASA report from 1989 that put plants in a controlled atmosphere with various VOCs like Benzene, Trichloroethylene, and Formaldehyde, plants can remove volatile organic compounds from the air.

An second study, Screened Indoor Plants for Volatile Organic Pollutant Removal Efficiency [Google Scholar], conducted by the American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHC) in August 2009, demonstrated that indoor plants can and do remove VOCs from the air.

Both studies demonstrated that the plants and soil in the experiment’s pots had the capacity to drastically reduce the level of dangerous substances in the air over time.

These studies did not account for the number of plants that would be needed in a tiny space, for example, in a real-world scenario, which we shall examine further in this article.

The experiment did demonstrate that plants do, in fact, eliminate VOCs.

The advantages of having plants in a room can now include this.

Even if its actual ability to remove VOCs in a real-world setting is limited.

Below are the findings from the 2009 experiment, which highlight the 12 plants that outperformed the other 28 plants evaluated in terms of eliminating VOCs.

2. Reduces Carbon Dioxide concentrations

Through photosynthesis, plants extract carbon dioxide, and as a result,

Through its leaves, the plant takes in carbon dioxide, which then undergoes a chemical reaction with chlorophyll in the presence of light to make glucose (plant food) and oxygen that is then released back into the atmosphere.

It is well recognized that exposure to carbon dioxide in humans can have a number of negative health impacts, such as headaches, fatigue, and vertigo.

If carbon dioxide isn’t being eliminated by plants or being replaced by fresh air, it can accumulate over time in an enclosed space like a bedroom or basement.

As a result, plants can be helpful in our living areas when it comes to lowering carbon dioxide levels.

3. Increases Oxygen

Through photosynthesis, plants will increase the amount of oxygen in a space.

Because of this, NASA and other space agencies are using plants to help create new oxygen and support life.

The importance of plants in our living places is demonstrated in the article published by NASA, which details how they are creating an inflatable greenhouse that might create oxygen on Mars and feed astronauts.

Additionally, it has been demonstrated that raising the oxygen levels in a space enhances health by enhancing recovery, vision, mental clarity, and immune system stimulation, all of which aid in warding off cancer cells.

4. Increases Humidity

The amount of water vapor in the air is gauged by the concept of humidity.

Evapotranspiration, which is the result of both transpiration and evaporation from the plant, is a mechanism by which plants raise the relative humidity in a space.We already know that the process through which water transforms from a liquid to a gas or vapor is called evaporation.

Therefore, transpiration is the process by which plants lose water from their leaves through the capillary transport of water from the soil to the leaves through the xylem and then out through the stomata.

This mechanism also explains what some individuals may consider to be “sweat,” which explains the phenomena of why plants perspire and accumulate water at their leaves.

The water vapor or clouds that come from a densely forested hill or mountain throughout the day are a good illustration of evapotranspiration.

5. Helps Reduce Temperature

Plants can lower the temperature in a room by evapotranspiration, which was previously described.

According to Dr. Leonard Perry, a professor at the University of Vermont, using plants effectively could reduce the ambient temperature in an office by as much as 10 degrees.

Dehydration results from a decrease in room temperature, which is a direct result of increasing humidity.

Therefore, the air we breathe in a space with a good humidity level won’t dramatically dehydrate us by removing moisture from our systems.

It has been demonstrated that having plants in specific areas lowers the interior temperature of buildings and apartments. This directly lowers the cost of energy used for climate control.

Due to the plants’ propensity to absorb the sun’s intense rays and promote lush vegetative growth, we are beginning to notice more greenery on building rooftops and even on some residential properties.

Most Common and Best Plants to Purify Air 

The effectiveness with which plants remove VOCs from the air varies depending on the plant species, according to study.

The most prevalent plant species that stood out in the experiments are listed below.

  1. Golden PothosThe Solomon Islands’ native golden pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, is a climbing vine with a lot of yellow-marbled leaf that can grow to be at least 40 feet long.Along with other plants, it was discovered that the golden pothos was effective at removing formaldehyde. [Google Scholar] is the source.
  2. Insect PlantThe spider plant is a variety of a plant native to South Africa with long, narrow green leaves that are frequently striped with ivory or white. They also produce white flowers on long, hanging stalks. In a comparison with aloe vera and golden pothos, which also eliminated a considerable amount of formaldehyde, the spider plant was found to have the greatest effect on the removal of formaldehyde. [Google Scholar] is the source.
  3. Mother-in-Tongue law’s (snake plant)Sansevieria are tall, evergreen perennial plants. They feature sword-shaped leaves that can go as long as two feet. The dark green foliage is stiff, broad, and erect, and it is striped with white and yellow. The snake plant, which was ranked ninth on the list of plants that remove VOCs, is very effective at getting rid of toluene and a-pinene.
  4. drake treeThe leaves of the dragon tree have a deep green color with sharp reddish edges. With time, lower leaves drop off, leaving distinct diamond-shaped scars on the stems. In the NASA test, this plant removed formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene fairly effectively.
  5. PhilodendronDue to the plant’s ability to thrive in any environment, philodendrons are renowned for being simple to cultivate and maintain. The broad leaves, which can be heart-shaped, pointed, oval, or both, and may also have deep incisions. More effectively than other plants, this one has been discovered to eliminate formaldehyde.
  6. Calm lilyPeace lilies are robust plants with oval, glossy, dark-green leaves that tip downward. Additionally, leaves may emerge directly from the ground. Additionally, this plant will occasionally produce white, lightly-scented blossoms that resemble calla lilies. It was also discovered that the peace lily was effective at eliminating benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
  7. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is utilized as a sentinel species to detect and absorb mercury from the air in stores that have been tainted by the gold trade in the Amazon, according to a report by Joao Paulo Machado Torres in this article.

Plants and the VOCs they Remove

Animal SpeciesBenzeneFormaldehydeTrichloro-ethylene
Yellow Pothos   
Viper Plant   
Insect Plant   
drake tree   
Calm lily   
Candle Plant   

How Soil in Potted Plants Helps in purifying air 

The aforementioned experiment demonstrated that potting soil combined with substrates like activated carbon helped reduce VOCs from the air.

This is primarily due to the fact that roots also take in other airborne particles including oxygen.

The contaminants would be introduced into the soil with the activated carbon through this air draw, where they would be filtered out.

Additionally, it was shown that soil in pots with more exposed surface area was significantly more effective in removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.

Air Cleaning Benefits of Plants

The truth about plant’s air purifying abilities through Research

Despite the fact that the NASA experiment mentioned above indicated that plants can dramatically lower the levels of VOCs in the air.

The fact that this experiment was conducted in such a small space is evidence that plants are capable of removing harmful substances.

If you truly think about it, imagine yourself in a room with little to no air and a high concentration of VOCs.

Because we would also breathe in a mixture of these gases that would end up in our system, the VOC levels would also fall.

The experiment, however, did not account for the number of plants or the amount of time needed to effectively remove known VOCs from an average-sized room.

According to the studies’ results extrapolated, it would take a whole nursery’s worth of plants to even begin to reduce the VOCs in a single 10 foot by 10 foot area.

However, the elimination of VOCs from a room is the sole tenet of this debunking theory.

On the other hand, we produce carbon dioxide when we breathe, which we are aware that plants can remove through photosynthesis.

How Much Plants are Needed to Clean the Air?

The study mentioned above has shown that plants can remove VOCs from the air with certainty.

The theory was demonstrated in a contained setting under consistent environmental conditions.

There is one major question that remains unsolved.

How many plants are actually required to purify the air?

The truth is that nobody really knows the answer unless another study is conducted to provide us with a truly scientific and conclusive response.

However, we do know that plants rapidly eat carbon dioxide and can considerably lower the amount of CO2 in a closed environment while simultaneously boosting the oxygen levels.

Because of this, adding plants to our living areas can positively affect our health and wellbeing.

The number of plants you have in your space is entirely up to you, and using the aforementioned advice will give you a fair sense of which plants will benefit you the most given your preferences.

The benefits of having plants in the house are numerous, and putting them where they are safe for you and your pets can give you even more peace of mind and help you get the most out of your plants.

You may read our in-depth essay on this subject here if you’d like to know where you can store plants safely inside your house.

The Importance of Air flow in the Home

In order to remove any built-up VOCs, the air flow in the house is crucial. Scrubbers are a feature of contemporary HVAC systems that circulate the air while it passes through deep beds of activated carbon scrubbers.

Air pollutants are drawn into the activated carbon, which subsequently releases them into various areas of a house or building.

In other cases, there is a traditional air flow through the house, with air entering via one window and exiting through another.

This prevents CO2 or any other emitted VOCs from building up inside the house.

In these situations, having plants in the house serves merely recreational purposes and has additional advantages related to soothing the senses and fostering a sense of tranquillity.

Good airflow, however, occasionally creates a different problem. Dust! Which brings up the following query.

Can Plants Remove Dust from the Air?

When there is work going on outside or if we live in a dry, arid climate, the presence of dust in the air entering our home from the outside can be more noticeable.

Fabrics and even the dead skin that we shed every day can cause dust in enclosed places.

But do plants actually get rid of dust?

It has been demonstrated that some plants are more effective at removing dust from the air than others. This is so that they can behave somewhat like a duster by having a bigger surface area.

You may have noticed that a duster has thousands of tiny bristles if you looked at them more closely. The surface area of the duster is increased by these bristles. Static is produced by the bristles’ constant movement.

Positively charged dust particles are drawn to and adhere to the duster by the static force.

The same principle applies to plants. For instance, a spider plant would be effective in removing dust due to its numerous leaf blades that expand outward and its ability to catch large amounts of dust through movement.

Another excellent illustration is the foxtail fern, a plant that effectively removes dust from the air and fulfills the definition of a typical duster.

A general rule of thumb is that a plant will be better at eliminating dust from the air if it has a big surface area.


How do plants help air quality?

In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, plants also increase humidity by evaporating water vapor through tiny leaf pores, and they can passively absorb contaminants from the air on the surfaces of their leaves and in the soil around their roots.

How do the plants purify the air?

They can eliminate contaminants from the air we breathe and change the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen through photosynthesis. Indoor plants help purge the air of cancer-causing volatile organic chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, according to a renowned NASA experiment that was published in 1989.

What plant helps purify air?

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) Mums, or florist’s chrysanthemums, are rated as the best air purifiers. They have been demonstrated to remove ammonia as well as common poisons.

How many plants do you need to purify air?

Numbers of Air Purifying Plants Wolverton advises at least two healthy plants for every 100 square feet (about 9.3 square meters) of interior space, even though it might be difficult to determine the precise number of plants required to filter indoor air. Better plants are those that are larger and have more leaves.

How many plants do I need to purify air?

Numbers of Air Purifying Plants Wolverton advises at least two healthy plants for every 100 square feet (about 9.3 square meters) of interior space, even though it might be difficult to determine the precise number of plants required to filter indoor air. Better plants are those that are larger and have more leaves.