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Can houseplants improve indoor air quality by removing CO2 and increasing relative humidity?

Gubb, C., Blanusa, T., Griffiths, A. and Pfrang, C. (2018) Can houseplants improve indoor air quality by removing CO2 and increasing relative humidity? Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 11 (10). pp. 1191-1201. ISSN 1873-9318

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11869-018-0618-9


High indoor CO2 concentrations and low relative humidity (RH) create an array of well-documented human health issues. Therefore, assessing houseplants’ potential as a low-cost approach to CO2 removal and increasing RH is important. We investigated how environmental factors such as ’dry’ (< 0.20 m3 m-3) or ‘wet’ (> 0.30 m3 m-3) growing substrates, and indoor light levels (‘low’ 10 µmol m-2 s-1, ‘high’ 50 µmol m-2 s-1 and ‘very high’ 300 µmol m-2 s-1), influence the plants’ net CO2 assimilation (‘A’) and water-vapour loss. Seven common houseplant taxa – representing a variety of leaf types, metabolisms and sizes – were studied for their ability to assimilate CO2 across a range of indoor light levels. Additionally, to assess the plants’ potential contribution to RH increase, the plants’ evapo-transpiration (ET) was measured. At typical ‘low’ indoor light levels ‘A’ rates were generally low (< 3.9 mg hr-1). Differences between ‘dry’ and ’wet’ plants at typical indoor light levels were negligible in terms of room-level impact. Light compensation points (i.e. light levels at which plants have positive ‘A’) were in the typical indoor light range (1-50 µmol m-2 s-1) only for two studied Spathiphyllum wallisii cultivars and Hedera helix; these plants would thus provide the best CO2 removal indoors. Additionally, increasing indoor light levels to 300 µmol m-2 s-1 would, in most species, significantly increase their potential to assimilate CO2. Species which assimilated the most CO2 also contributed most to increasing RH.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Chemistry
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:78942


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