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Keeping Your Indoor Air Clean: How Houseplants Can Help You Do the Job

Posted on November 5, 2013

You may not realize it, but the air inside your home might be more polluted than the air outside. Why? One reason is that energy-efficient homes tend to be well sealed, so the indoor air stays indoors. That means all of the pollutants that get brought into your home stay there. A quality air-cleaning system and whole-house ventilation can address the problem. But there’s another approach that also deserves consideration: houseplants.

Who says that houseplants are good air cleaners? NASA. Yep, the space program has been looking at indoor-air quality problems since they started putting people in space. One of the major concerns with the international space station was maintaining a high standard of indoor-air quality because they can’t just open the windows and let fresh air in. The researchers at NASA knew that plants absorbed carbon dioxide and released oxygen, so they were a prime choice for the space station.

During their research, the scientists at NASA found that houseplants don’t absorb just carbon dioxide. Houseplants also absorb benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. They are found in building materials like new carpets, synthetic furniture fabrics, laminate flooring and paint. These gases are often referred to as volatile organic compounds, one of the leading causes of a phenomenon called sick building syndrome.

The NASA study recommended that 15 to 18 houseplants that are at least 6 to 8 inches in diameter can significantly improve the air quality in an 1,800-square-foot home. The better they grow, the better your air quality. The most interesting finding was that the microorganisms in the soil actually used these VOCs as food. The more soil-to-air contact there is, the better the plants perform.

For more suggestions on improving your indoor-air quality, call the experts at Comfort Systems. We’ve been the go-to source for home comfort in Wichita since 1953.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about indoor air and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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