Oct 04, 2015

Can Plants Help Indoor Air Quality? Featured

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a plant in an earthy potThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of indoor air pollutants can be 2-5 times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. So what do you do if you think your home or business may be causing Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)? If there is a possibility that SBS is present, the first step would be to bring in a building specialist to conduct a professional investigation.



Ensure Proper Building Systems


The building may not be operating in accordance to its original design. The HVAC or ventilation system may not be performing as it was intended. Adequate ventilation and air exchange rates are significant factors in the health and comfort of occupants. If the symptoms are seasonal, the heating or cooling system may be the culprit. Combustion products like carbon monoxide may be creating the indoor air pollution. Understanding that systems work interdependently, even a minor adjustment or alteration affecting one system could conversely affect the efficiency of other systems. The general maintenance or occupant activities may also be the cause of indoor air problems.


Air Pollutants and Contaminants


An evaluation of irritants, pollutants and even the humidity level may determine if, alone or in combination, these factors are contributing to or exacerbating the indoor air quality problems. A professional will likely discover that indoor chemical contaminants may be emitting toxic compounds such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Additionally, biological contaminants such as molds or pollen may also be collecting in ducts, ceiling tiles or carpeting.


Benefits of Plants


Once the source of the indoor air pollution has been identified and contained, the addition of indoor plants to the office or home could prove beneficial in the prevention of sick building syndrome. Through a 2-year study, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) concluded that these living air purifiers could aid not only in absorbing harmful pollutants, but also in cleaning indoor air. Living plants were found to be an efficient means of indoor air purification and removal of VOCs in test chambers. Through their leaves, roots and soil bacteria, the plants showed a natural way to improve the indoor air quality.


The study reported the Philodendron, Spider plant and the Golden Pothos as the most effective formaldehyde removers. The Gerbera Daisy and Chrysanthemum were said to be the highest benzene removers. Combined with research suggesting that plants play a psychological role in welfare and illness recovery, adding a little greenery to the home or office could prove more than just pleasing to the eye.



  • Comment Link Evelyn Saturday, 26 February 2011 09:17 posted by Evelyn

    Some argue that a house in not the same as test chambers, so these findings are not conclusive. But, plants were not only studied in NASA conditions, they were also studied in hospitals. And once again they had a favorable outcome. They've shown positive effects on patient's health. Apparently sick people get better with plants in the room. Maybe it just makes them feel better to know that someone cares about them (which some would argue could be done with cut flowers or balloons). But either way, plants are a great way to bring life into any living condition.

  • Comment Link Alex Saxon Wednesday, 06 April 2011 09:42 posted by Alex Saxon

    Anyone who says that plants cannot improve air quality has never been in a forest. Can you tell me that the air quality is better among trees and plants? Of course not. Whenever people get out of the city and go into the country surrounded by nature they always say that the air is so fresh and clean. Case closed.

  • Comment Link Ken KK Saturday, 03 March 2012 09:47 posted by Ken KK

    Plants need light to carry out photosynthesis thereby using up CO2 and releasing Oxygen.Unless we have adequate natural sunlight in the room through skylight openings in the roof or reflectors plants placed indoors cannot function optimally.

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