Potted plants are praised for brightening decor, giving any room homely vibes and cleaning the air indoors. However, that latter statement has now been proved wrong by scientists studying the effects of houseplants on air quality.
A study conducted by Bryan E. Cumming and Michael S. Waring last year busted two myths about our green friends – that they provide us with more oxygen and help purify the air indoors.
After examining 12 studies conducted on this subject in the past three decades, the scientists came to the conclusion that potted plants "don't actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment," according to Waring. They said claims about plants' abilities to improve the air indoors were vastly overstated.
The study revealed that the best way to get oxygen and clean the air is proper ventilation. So, crack open a window from time to time, even – or especially – on cold days, when the room is heated and the air tends to go stale even faster.
The researchers also suggested that future experiments should not focus on the abilities – or inabilities – of plants to clean the air but rather on other fields such as alternative biofiltration technologies. Their findings were published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology in November.
However, plants do still have great benefits. According to a study by the University of Michigan, plants improve our concentration, memory and productivity. Of course, spending time with houseplants is not the same as being in nature itself but the potted plants at our homes, offices or schools can improve retention up to 20%.
In general, plants have proven to improve our mood, especially at work. Having some green and broad-leaved plants helps us relax and relieve stress. With an improved mood, they help us survive those dreaded Mondays and make our outlook for the week even better. Taking care of a plant – yes, even if you do not have a green thumb – gives a different kind of fulfillment. So, find your favorite kind of plant and make it your desk buddy today.