Reducing indoor air pollution with plants

Air pollution is something that most of us identify as being outdoors.

Yet air circulating inside buildings has the combination of polluted air that comes in from outside, along with pollutants from indoor sources. These indoor pollutants can come from cooking, cleaning, heating or even furnishings and include:

  • carbon dioxide
  • carbon monoxide
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • sulfur oxide

In addition, plastics and synthetics from items such as computers, carpets, glues and paints produce a group of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOC’s are the main culprits for lessening the quality of our indoor air and even at low levels contribute to sick building syndrome which has been associated with nausea, headaches, dry eyes, nose and throat.

The amount of available sources of these chemicals within an indoor environment, combined with poor ventilation, builds up a chemical cocktail over time.

This is backed up by a CSIRO report that measured pollutant concentration inside homes compared to outdoors. It was found that carbon dioxide, total VOCs and formaldehyde for example were significantly higher inside than outside.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group has invested a great deal of time researching different types of plants and have made comparisons regarding their impact on air quality.

The findings are clear – indoor plants can help.

Plants help to remove VOCs as part of the photosynthetic process by absorbing and degrading air pollutants, along with the well known function of releasing oxygen into the air.

Plants have also been found to improve mood by decreasing stress and negative feelings and even reduce the amount of sick leave people take. UTS have a brochure that highlights the benefits indoor plants can have on air quality of a home or office.

Going by the information they provide now is the time to put a green wall up to bring out the maximum air cleaning benefits of boosted health and productivity.

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