Are houseplants indoor air filters? Science busts a popular home gardening myth

reindustrial mews house conversion
Image Credit: GEM+ELLI

Houseplants have much to recommend them. They’re fun to care for, they look good on Instagram, and they express environmental angst through interior design. But one of houseplants’ most commonly repeated virtues holds that they’re not only living tchotchkes, but also little HVAC machines: Houseplants, allegedly, filter the air.

For several years, research really did suggest that houseplants might cleanse the air of certain pollutants. But now most scientists say that’s not right.

“It’s such an alluring and enticing idea,” Elliot Gall, a Portland State University professor, told me. “But the scientific literature shows that indoor houseplants—as would be typically implemented in a person’s home—do very little to clean the air.”

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“My view is even harsher than that,” Michael Waring, an engineering professor at Drexel University, told me. “I do not think that houseplants clean the air.”

“A resounding ‘no,’” agreed Richard Corsi, a longtime air-pollution researcher, in an email. Houseplants do not clean the air “any more than an old pair of socks or baseball cap that I would hang on the wall.”

Read full, original article: A Popular Benefit of Houseplants Is a Myth

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