The news is shocking enough to make a weeping fig inconsolable.
Despite their reputation as indoor pollution busters, new research has confirmed that when it comes to purifying our polluted houses, houseplants are useless.
Unless you transform your living room into the cave of Tarzan. Only then will you experience the clean, breathing benefits that have long been associated with ferns, palms and spider plants.
Because, says Michael Waring, professor of architecture and environmental engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, you need between ten and 1,000 plants – depending on size and type – per square meter to get exactly the same & # 39; air-cleaning & # 39; effect if opening a few windows.
This will of course be a tragic development for millennials, whose fiery hovering of house plants has caused a potted plant tree that has been unprecedented since the 1970s.
Despite their reputation as indoor pollution busters, new research has confirmed that when it comes to purifying our polluted houses, houseplants are useless
Sold the lie that houseplants are stylish (really?) And good for the environment (oh come on!), Millennials now buy more cheese plants, aloe vera, bamboo and the like than any other generation, good for a third of all sales.
Typical of selfie-obsessed people over 20, replanting house plants has little to do with green fingers and much more with generating & # 39; green envy & # 39; online.
Clean food was like 2018. The current Instagrammers now love & # 39; breathe clean & # 39 ;, with the hashtag & # 39; houseplants & # 39; who posted more than 2.5 million messages on the photo sharing app.
Even that much light-hearted hippie standard from the seventies indoor jungle look, the rubber plant, bounces back. Rattan baskets and hanging planters are also in vogue. The macramé army has returned – but is it here to stay?
Professor Waring, based on 30 years of research, is not so sure. In fact, he claims that plants are simply too slow in filtering common airborne toxins known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene.
These chemical compounds are released into the atmosphere after burning wood, coal and gasoline and can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, frequent headache and lung cancer.
In other words, not filtering them away is a pretty big mistake.
Professor Waring blames the misplaced dependence on millennials of pot plants for a rather unlikely organization: Nasa.
In the 1980s, NASA engineers were determined to find out how they could prevent VOCs from hiding the air at space stations. Of course, if it gets stuffy in space, you can't just open a window. And that is why they carried out a number of tests in 1989 to see if plants could do the job. But although the experiments were for the most part successful, pot plant vendors who then used the findings to market their wares did not declare that the tests were conducted in closed laboratories. These sterile rooms have nothing in common with the swirling atmosphere in most homes – and plants simply don't catch air quickly enough to efficiently purify them.
That does not mean that houseplants are completely useless air purifiers. Photosynthesis alone – the chemical process that produces food for the plant – removes carbon dioxide and brings oxygen back into the air.
And outdoors, plant roots can absorb toxic heavy metals such as lead into their cells.
Meanwhile, even if plants are not the fantastic air purifiers as once thought, psychologists are still enthusiastic about the countless mental uplifts that we get simply by having green living things around us.
After dubbed & # 39; biophilia & # 39 ;, they say that just looking at green leafy plants helps stimulate our mood, making us feel better physically and think more creatively.
Meanwhile, even if plants are not the fantastic air purifiers as once thought, psychologists are still enthusiastic about the countless mental uplifts that we get simply by having green living things around us
All of this could explain why recent tests show that having plants at home helps us to better deal with our companions.
Fancy? They can even help to clean the air – if not to clean it – after domestic rows. . .
Unless your house plants naturally decide to kill themselves mysteriously – just like the expensive salon palm that I installed in our living room last year and now commits suicide one page at a time. With such & # 39; leaves & # 39 ;, who needs enemies?
Nevertheless, an entire industry has arisen around the identification of specific house plants for specific air cleaning tasks in the home.
For example, the Country Living website claims that English ivy is a perfect plant for a bathroom because & # 39; it is particularly effective at reducing airborne excrement & # 39 ;. Charming.
In general, plants are generally cheaper than the electronic air cleaners that are often found in high-tech homes. The clean breath has also made sales of this rising, with the global market expected £ 6.2 billion sent by 2024. Some, such as the trendy Molekule (predictably approved by Gwyneth Paltrow & # 39; s lifestyle website Goop), promise to & # 39; actually destroy & # 39; pollutants & # 39; at the molecular level & # 39 ;.
Even if that was scientifically credible, the £ 560-plus price tag is enough to make you squeak.
For comparison: a broad palm that gardeners claim to be & # 39; one of the few plants that can help reduce the amount of ammonia in a range of cleaning products & # 39 ;, seems like a £ 350 snipe for a mature sample.
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