Office Plants: the Ultimate Office Fighting Machines

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You may not be aware of it, but there is battle taking place in office buildings all over the world.  On one side is the toxic gases produced by modern office equipment and on the other a group of surprising heroes, regular office plants.  Research has shown that modern energy efficient office buildings are in fact home to a number of potentially harmful toxic gases that are more commonly known on the streets as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  This gang contains characters such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene that are attacking office workers by causing sore throats, headaches and irritable eye and skin conditions.

In the early 1980’s the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) discovered a potential solution to apprehend these volatile gases. Enlisting the help of Dr. Bill Wolverton, an environmental engineer, NASA discovered that indoor plants were capable of challenging the VOCs and purifying the air making it much safer for employees in office buildings.  Dr. Wolverton found that common houseplants could both purify and cleanse polluted air and water as well as bringing a number of other beneficial properties into our indoor spaces.

The modern energy efficient buildings we now live and work in have provided VOCs with the perfect territory in which to reign.  With much of our time now being spent indoors, many of us in windowless offices, the distinct lack of fresh air has also led to other physical and psychological ailments that have been enhanced further by the toxic VOCs.  Our productivity, creativity and general mood are depressed in these ultra efficient conditions, where the only thing that is ultra efficient are the machines and equipment that support the VOCs.

Wolverton identified that certain office plants, such as the Bamboo Palm and Peace Lily, fought to clean indoor air by battling against the VOCs and reducing the levels of airborne formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.  With these gases hiding in wall paneling, paints, carpets and electrical office equipment these brave indoor office plants are locked in battle.

As an ally to these efficient green soldiers Wolverton went on to work with the Plants for Clean Air Council in the US and produced his findings in his book “Eco Friendly House Plants” published in 1996.  The book identifies and describes the ability of 50 common house plants to reduce indoor VOCs with character profiles of some of the toughest and most capable office plants on the block.  Some of the biggest characters included the palm sisters: Areca Palm, Lady Palm and Bamboo palm as well as some members of the Ficus family including Ficus Alii and Ficus Benjamina, not to mention the infamous Dracaena Janet Craig.

Further studies into these green heroes have also shown that not only do they help to fight the VOCs but that they also give a helping hand when it comes to reducing office noise and the humidity levels in indoor climates.  So if you’re having trouble with your indoor climates why not call in a professional interior plantscape company that can help you make your offices a healthy and attractive in which to work.

For further information on these talented indoor office plants visit or to inquire about arranging a free consultation for plants at your facility, email us at

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