Plants Provide Aesthetic Rather than Cleaning Properties

November 13, 2019

Potted plants are commonly found in office buildings, public venues, and other facilities. Many people believe that indoor plants help clean the air, but a new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology found that belief is a myth.

The study looked at air quality in small chambers (3 feet wide, by 3 feet high), some of which contained a potted plant. A volatile organic compound (VOC) had been sprayed into each chamber.

Researchers found the VOC in each chamber decayed over time, but the decay was due to modern building ventilation systems rather than the plants. For plants to clean the air as effectively as a ventilation system, you would have to place 10 plants in every square foot, similar to the density in a greenhouse.

Despite these results, facility managers shouldn’t be quick to remove plants from buildings. Greenery in buildings provide pleasing aesthetics and help boost building residents’ moods.

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