FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Vicki Bendure, APR
Phone: 540- 687-3360
Improving Indoor Air Quality with Indoor Plants
HERNDON, Va., January 31, 2012 — During winter months, many people spend a lot of time indoors. In an effort to be energy efficient, many homes and buildings have been well sealed with insulation materials. Sealing interior spaces also inhibits air flow and, since building materials and furnishings are made with chemicals that off-gas, indoor air can become hazardous to your health.
Dr. Bill Wolverton, a retired scientist who was with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for 19 years, studied how houseplants clean indoor air while he was at NASA. PLANET’s parent organization, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, funded two years of Wolverton’s fourteen years of indoor plant research. The findings were astounding. Common houseplants such as philodendron, peace lily, Janet Craig, Gerbera daisy, spider plant, golden pothos, English ivy, Marginata and others demonstrated their ability to pull chemicals from the air and break them down through the plant leaves, roots and soil. Here are some tips on how to use them:
- Remove chemicals. The most commonly found indoor chemicals include formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. All of the houseplants tested worked hard to remove all of the chemicals but some worked harder with specific chemicals than others. For instance, philodendron and spider plants removed large amounts of formaldehyde; English ivy, and Marginata mitigated the largest amounts of benzene; and Gerbera daisy and peace lily worked hardest in removing trichloroethylene.
- Plant placement. One potted plant per 100 square feet of floor space can help clean the air in an average home or office. In commercial buildings, atriums of plants help to filter the circulated air in the building.
- Watering. Mold is always a concern in watering indoor plants so be sure not to overwater and you will not have any problems with mold. Read plant instructions and check with your local plant professional to make sure that you’re watering correctly. Most house plants need a small drink every week and then they like to dry out.
- Types of plants. If you’re confused about which plants to purchase, remember that virtually every tropical indoor plant, and many flowering plants, are powerful removers of indoor air pollutants. If you have a good mix, you can’t go wrong.
NASA’s interest in studying the value and use of indoor plants was initially in an effort to find ways to reduce pollutants inside future space habitats. To spend long periods of time in outer space, humans need environments in which they can live and breathe safely. In a sealed environment, humans also contribute to air contamination through the gases produced from breathing.
Indoor Plants Improve Air Quality
In his study, Dr. Wolverton placed potted plants inside sealed plexiglass chambers. He injected one of the three toxic substances commonly found in indoor air and he measured air samples from the chambers 24 hours later.
In the experiments, plants were found to remove as much as 87% of toxic indoor air pollutants within 24 hours. The results indicated that the pollutants are absorbed through the plants leaves, roots, the soil and the bacteria living in the soil. The plants actually broke down the pollutants and converted them to food.
“It’s important for us to remember this great NASA research and the importance of indoor plants in our environment,” stated Christopher Raimondi, chair of PLANET’s interiorscape committee. “Although the research with NASA was completed in the early 90s, research since that time has confirmed the findings that plants are an important component of our environment and we should not overlook their environmental, health and aesthetic benefits. Dr. Wolverton’s research remains timeless.”
For more information, or to find an interiorscape professional in your area, visit LandcareNetwork.org/findaprofessional.
PLANET is the association of members who create and maintain the quality of life in communities across America. With approximately 3,800 members and affiliates, these firms and their employees represent more than 100,000 green industry professionals. Some of these professionals have taken the extra step of becoming certified through PLANET and bear the distinction of being known as Landscape Industry Certified.