‘It has been estimated that 90% of our time is spent indoors inhaling pollutants like VOCs.’
The benefits of indoor plants are enormous - not only do indoor plants create contemporary workplaces they actively improve indoor air quality. Effectively indoor plants act as clean air machines. Early research from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has consistently shown that living green and flowering plants can remove several toxic chemicals from air within building interiors.
Recent research on this subject has been carried out at the University of Technology Sydney, where they have been undertaking laboratory and office studies into the effectiveness of indoor plants in reducing indoor air pollution. They are starting to identify the exact mechanism by which indoor plants remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from indoor air, and also are quantifying (through field trials) the density of plant material required. VOCs are pollutants which are found in plastics, synthetics, paints, furnishing glues, cosmetics and solvents, and can cause office ill feeling.
’Indoor plants act as clean air machines.’
It was found that VOCs are removed by micro-organisms living in the soil near the roots of indoor plants and they can significantly reduce the level of VOCs in the office air. Any variety of indoor plant is effective as the micro-organisms in the potting mix are responsible for degrading the toxins into harmless carbon dioxide. The plant does play a direct role, but its main task is feeding and supporting the micro-organisms. It is a symbiotic relationship with the plants and microbes cooperating.
If indoor plants are happy and well maintained they are extremely efficient in reducing VOC pollutants and improve almost every aspect of the quality of the indoor environment. Indoor plants are cost effective by comparison to complex filtered air-conditioning systems.
‘Indoor plants are cost effective in comparison to complex air-conditioning filter systems.’
The air we breathe indoors is now often more polluted than the air outside. In addition it has been estimated that 90% of our time is spent indoors inhaling pollutants like VOCs. Research has found that ‘new office’ odours are likely the scent of toxic VOCs. Research has also shown indoor plants usually reduce VOC components by 50 to 70 per cent. Indoor plants clean indoor air in both air-conditioned and un-air-conditioned environments making live indoor plants a solution to indoor pollution.
Overseas studies are finding that the pollution from VOCs, even at very low levels, can cause ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS) and building related illnesses with symptoms such as loss of concentration, headaches, dry eyes, nose and throat, a feeling of dizziness and mild nausea. All employers should be committed the health and wellbeing of their employees. Healthy, thriving indoor plants will enhance any office whilst also improving air quality and assisting in the reduction of workplace stress.
The Frenchams Group is dedicated to the creation of healthy, contemporary workplaces through the innovative use of indoor plants.