Jul
21

Office Plants Promote Good Health

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Article from Green Plants for Green Buildings

Plants add life to an office space.  Whether they are in a home office or a cubicle, having plants in the office relaxes people and may even make them more productive.  During photosynthesis, plants also add oxygen to the air.

Office plants are also important in the maintenance of healthy indoor air.  People who work in enclosed office environments are exposed to any number of chemicals, leading to health problems like “sick building syndrome”.  Sources of chemicals include gases from carpets, cleaning chemicals, printer and copier chemicals, volatile organic compounds from paint, and even simple office dust.  While these chemicals rarely present a risk for immediate toxic health effects, they can cause chronic health impacts over time.

In 1998, researchers Fjeld, Veiersted, Sandvik and Riise were working at the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo.  They conducted research into the health impacts of office plants and discovered that the presence of indoor plants reduced coughs, fatigue, and dry skin symptoms by up to 37 per cent.  Their research was published in the journal Indoor Built Environments.  In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the problem of poor indoor air quality and has launched a Green Indoor Environments program to promote indoor environmental quality.
Many office plants that are good at purifying the air originated in tropical climates.  These plants live under the thick canopy in the tropical rainforest, and they are very good at processing the gases they need to survive.  This makes them good candidates for cleaning indoor air.
Dr Bill Wolverton, a former NASA scientist who conducted 25 years of research on indoor plants and their ability to purify air in enclosed environments, wrote the book How to Grow Fresh Air (Penguin, 1997) which describes 50 plants that clean office air.  These plants include:
  • Corn plant (Dracaena Massangeana)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii)
  • Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Sword or Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
Three chemicals of particular concern in office environments are formaldehyde, benzene, and TCE.  Formaldehyde is often found in particle board products used in office furniture.  It is also found in cleaning agents.  Philodendron, spider plant, weeping fig, and golden pothos are good at removing formaldehyde from the air.  Benzene is found in glue, paint, and plastics.  Plants that remove benzene include gerbera daisy, golden pothos, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Gerbera Daisy, Madagascar Dragon Tree.Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a product used in printing ink, paint, and dry cleaning. Peace lilies, Golden Pothos, Gebera Daisy, and English Ivy remove TCE.

While indoor plants may not solve all of the problems of indoor environmental quality, office plants can make a significant difference to human health and happiness in a work environment.  Indoor plants not only beautify an office, but they also add oxygen and clean the air, giving the green office a whole new meaning.

For more  information on plants and containers that will compliment your office space, or to inquire about  a free consultation for plants and planters  in your facility just email us at info@interiorofficeplants.com.

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