NASA Indoor Air Quality

What NASA Learned About Improving Indoor Air Quality

Keeping astronauts alive and well is a daunting procedure. They’re in arguably one of the most hostile environments outside maybe the atmosphere of a star, or bottom of the ocean. Just like a submarine, the vehicles used in space have a very limited amount of atmosphere to bring with them. That air gets polluted pretty quickly and as a result they employ expensive and heavy air scrubbers and filters to clean that air.

But what if there was another, cheaper, way to purify the air?

Indoor Air Quality Studies From NASA

When Gardening Becomes Rocket Science

In 1989, NASA Scientist B. C. Wolverton, Ph.D. designed a study, in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) named, A Study of Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. If that doesn’t perk your interest right off the bat, bear with us for a minute.

As mentioned before, air purification equipment can be expensive and heavy. When it costs up to $10,000 to send one pound of equipment into space, it makes sense to try and find some lightweight, less expensive solutions.

Everyone knows that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but what if they could filter out other chemicals from the air? If plants could be sent into space instead of heavy mechanical and chemical filters, a space flight might become a lot less expensive.

So, NASA hit up the ALCA and asked them for a list of plants that would be good to use in a study for reduction of indoor air pollution in confined environments. No slouches themselves, the ALCA recommended a list of tropical and sub-tropical plants due to their ability to thrive in reduced light conditions, such as in a spacecraft, or even your home.

The study was centered around the ability of plants to reduce airborne formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. While there are other pollutants commonly encountered in homes, buildings, and spacecraft, those chemicals are known or suspected teratogens or carcinogens.

The IAQ Results

For nearly all of the plants used, the reduction in airborne benzene and formaldehyde were significant.

Think about that.

A simple houseplant filtering out hazardous chemicals from the air. And doing a really good job at it! (Caveat being that the microorganisms in the soil are suspected to play a significant role in the process.)

Their conclusion was that for reducing high concentrations of indoor pollutants an integrated system of plants and mechanical/chemical filtration should be used. They also found that one houseplant per 100 sq. ft. was the optimum concentration for effective filtration.

So while having 20 or 30 houseplants evenly distributed throughout your home might be a bit excessive – a few houseplants, combined with IAQ improvement systems and products will help improve the air quality in every home.

For all of your home air quality needs, give us at Bryant Home Air Experts a call!

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