Study reveals house plants aren't actually improving your home's air quality

Houseplants have become increasingly popular in recent years, with your Instagram feed probably filled with greenery and Facebook groups created for thousands of 'houseplant addicts' and 'indoor plant lovers'. 

Humans have been going nuts for installing ferns, ficus, bromeliads, peace lilies and more in our urban abodes.

If bringing the outside in is all for aesthetic reasons, great! But besides looking nice, the assumption is that the greenery will grant us cleaner air through the magic of plant respiration. 

If you're trying to counteract the pollution seeping into your inner-city apartment, we have bad news. 

A new study out of Drexel University reveals that while your beloved shrubs may look pretty, they're probably not doing much for your home's oxygen quality. 

According to the research - published this week in Nature's Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology - to clear out the chemical compounds wafting through our homes, we'd need to install a literal jungle. 

Researchers found that the natural air exchange rates in indoor environments, like homes and offices, dilute concentrations of the air pollution that plants are meant to be cleaning much faster than plants can extract them from the air.

"This has been a common misconception for some time. Plants are great, but they don't actually clean indoor air quickly enough to have an effect on the air quality of your home or office environment," says researcher Dr Michael Waring. 

According to the team's calculations, it would take between 10 and 1000 plants per square meter of floor space to compete with the air cleaning capacity of a building's air handling system or even just a couple open windows in a house.

That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for furniture.