Improving IAQ: Say Goodbye to Pollutants & Hello to Indoor Plants

Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of the air you breathe inside buildings such as your home. As we discussed in our previous blog, “Improving Indoor Air Quality: The Role of Air Filters & Air Purifiers,” taking care of your air filtration and/or purifier system and choosing quality air filters are important parts of keeping your air clean.  

You can also take steps to improve your IAQ by considering what you bring into your home that can impact your home’s IAQ. In this blog, we will discuss common pollutants that negatively impact IAQ, as well as plants (and other alternatives) that can help clean your home’s air.  

What Are Some Pollutants That Affect Indoor Air Quality?  

When considering how to improve your indoor air quality, it is important to be aware of common sources of pollution. Here are some common pollutants you should be aware of: 

  • Secondhand smoke. Did you know that secondhand smoke can seep into your furniture and living areas? Also known as environmental tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke emitted from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, as well as the smoke exhaled by smokers. To safeguard your household and living spaces, consider taking smoking outdoors as a precautionary measure against the infiltration of second and third-hand smoke into your furniture and living areas. 

  • Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a strong, pungent smell. It is used in a wide range of products, including building materials, insulation, and household products. To reduce the amount of this pollutant in your home, be mindful of the types of furniture you buy; composite wood is safer than solid wood furniture, and used furniture has less formaldehyde than new items. Using air purifiers with activated carbon filters can also help absorb formaldehyde and other harmful pollutants. If you are into crafting, formaldehyde is often found in certain glues and resins, so consider keeping a window open while crafting.  

  • Cleaning products. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common in many cleaning supplies. Being conscientious when buying cleaning products for your home can help improve your IAQ.  

Do Plants Improve Air Quality in the Home?  

Interestingly, nature has provided us with a simple solution to improve IAQ: plants. Some of the best indoor plants that can improve indoor air quality include:  

  • Snake plants. Known for its ability to survive under low light conditions and irregular watering, the snake plant is an excellent choice for beginners. It is particularly efficient at removing formaldehyde, a common indoor pollutant. 

  • Spider plants. An easy-to-grow plant that thrives in indirect sunlight. It's effective in removing pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene. 

  • Peace lilies. Not only does this plant bloom beautiful flowers, but it also removes toxins like ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. 

  • English ivy. A study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology showed that English Ivy removed 78% of airborne mold in just 12 hours. However, if you have children or pets, we advise you not to get this particular plant, as it can be poisonous when consumed. While adults would know not to eat household plants, pets, and children may not.  

  • Boston ferns. This plant is a humidifier and can help to restore moisture in the air. It's particularly good at removing formaldehyde.  

Alternatives to Plants 

If you are prone to plant-based allergens, you should keep the greenery outside rather than inside. While plants release oxygen and remove common indoor pollutants, they can also trigger allergic reactions. Rather than get plants to improve your IAQ, you can:  

  • Regularly clean your filters.  

  • Reduce clutter, as it can trap dust and allergens.  

  • Regularly clean bedding, drapes, furniture, and rugs/carpets.  

  • Using cooking vents.  

  • Controlling your home’s humidity.  

Discuss IAQ solutions with Hoffman Cooling & Heating professionals by calling (612) 255-5883.