According to a study done by NASA, adding certain houseplants to rooms in your home can increase the level of oxygen indoors, as well as improve indoor air quality. Certain plants work better indoors than others, and you need to have enough plants in the house to make a difference in air quality. Planting trees near windows of your home will also increase the oxygen level indoors.
A study released in 1989 by NASA and led by Dr. Bill Wolverton noted that houseplants can increase the oxygen level in a home and improve indoor air quality. Dr. Wolverton's research originally began in the 1960s when he researched ways to clean up after the U.S. military's biological warfare experiments. He found that swamp plants were eliminating Agent Orange near Elgin Air Force Base in Florida. From this success, he went on to do decades of research on using plants to improve indoor air quality. His firm, Wolverton Environmental, Inc., has since partnered with other firms to produce things such as a special pot with carbon filters that allows houseplants to greatly increase how efficiently they clean up indoor air. He has also shown that it is possible to use plants in HVAC systems to naturally filter air and increase oxygen levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency notes that air is about 79 percent nitrogen, 20.9 percent oxygen and .01 percent other gases such as carbon dioxide, argon and helium. The EPA also notes that more studies need to be done to prove that houseplants work to improve indoor air quality and increase the oxygen level. They recommend using bathroom fans, opening windows and using ventilation systems such as air conditioning to increase the oxygen level and improve air quality. They note that by over watering houseplants, it is possible to increase the level of mold in the home, which may grow in the soil of the houseplants. Dr. Wolverton notes that indoor plants can actually remove airborne microbes and dust.
Houseplants That Add Oxygen at Night
There is some concern that houseplants actually remove oxygen from the air at night. According to Dr. Wolverton, it is true that many plants do take some oxygen from the air at night. However, the amount is very small and certain plants, including orchids, succulents, snake plant and bromeliads actually add more oxygen to your home at night.
Which Houseplants Work Best Indoors
According to HGTV, plants act as a filter by taking carbon dioxide and indoor air pollutants and replacing the air with oxygen in a more pure form. The plants that work best indoors are originally from the tropics, where they adapted to the low light of the rain forest and so are perfectly suited to the lower sunlight exposure indoors. HGTV recommends Spider plants, snake plants, gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, Chinese evergreen and bamboo palms to increase the oxygen levels in your home.
You need about 15 to 18 good sized plants in 6 to 8 inch pots to increase the amount of oxygen and improve the air quality in an 1800-square-foot home, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. The University of Minnesota also recommends English ivy, ficus Benjamin, philodendrons and aloe vera as good choices. All of these plants are easy to grow and easy to maintain.