Here I am, surrounded by the beautiful indoor plants I thoughtfully cared for to make sure they bloomed in all their glorious greenness. Then, it hits me. Without warning, the snippet of a study that says it’s a myth. Houseplants, though charming, cozy, and Instagram-worthy, do close to nothing to purify the air. With sadness, I look around my room, tell my plants not to listen to this nonsense, and keep digging for the truth.
What Started the Myth
Our hopes and the best argument plant-lovers have to drop another $65 on a potted golden pothos is this one NASA experiment. In the study, indoor plants were found to strip the air of cancer-causing organic compounds. Additionally, research then found that microorganisms in potted plants also worked towards cleaning the indoor air.
To make things more factual, further revisions of these studies proved that there are some air-quality benefits of having indoor plants. Every test done in the lab showed that our beloved plants do their part when it comes to getting rid of toxins and dangerous chemicals from the air. No wonder, so many retailers sell air-purifying plants.
The Reality of Our Home Environment
The critical element of busting this myth is the home environment. While one study showed that in 24 hours, household ivies could remove up to two-thirds of dangerous chemicals from the air. This happened in a lab, not in your home. Every possible measure was accounted for to make sure the temperature, lighting, soil, and even placement of the plants corresponded to an ideal situation.
While this doesn’t mean the experiment is flawed, it means the results won’t translate to an everyday environment, say your home or office.
What Indoor Plants Can Do for Our Health
Don’t cry yet, my fellow plant lovers. While this means we can no longer argue the reasoning behind our plants, improving air quality, plants are still our friends. They do wonderful things for our health.
For example, there’s evidence that plants can help us manage our stress levels by calming our nervous system. Plants have this superpower of assisting people in feeling happier. More research has proven that spending time outdoors has a positive effect on our mood and energy levels, so we might as well bring the outdoors indoors through our plants. And, plants can help us improve our self-care practice.
Honestly, if plants can’t improve air quality, that’s fine. They do so much more.