You can naturally remove airborne toxins with indoor plants in the workplace.
Most professional office work places currently have tropical exotic plants with decorative planters standard practice. In addition to the obvious aesthetic benefits of plants and planters, several studies have shown an increase workplace moral when living tropical exotic plants are implemented into the work environment. The 1989 NASA Clean Air Study has found that many common indoor plants naturally remove toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air. By searching for solutions for clean air in space stations, NASA has also provided conclusive evidence that indoor tropical exotic plants also help neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome. By placing at least one medium sized (3’) plant per 100 square feet of home or office space, efficient air cleaning is achieved. Other research has shown that micro-organisms in the potting mix of a potted plant remove benzene from the air.
Most plants used for interior application are tropical or subtropical in origin. Although lacking in humidity, interior spaces offer a moderate temperature with minimal direct sunlight; a setting preferred by some tropical plants the dwell under the canopy of taller trees. Some Dracaena and Palm varieties can tolerate the lower light of interior rooms thus allowing a continuance of the ‘plant every 100 square foot’ operendum.
Formaldehyde is an industrial chemical used to make other chemicals and different types of products including: home furnishings, paints, textiles, household cleaners and personal care products. Formaldehyde can affect people differently and does have a strong smell at room temperature, sometimes causing eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, coughing wheezing and allergic reactions. Living plants can help in ‘cleaning’ some of the formaldehyde gas from the air, thus alleviating some of these symptoms.
Benzene is used as a solvent for fats, waxes, resins, oils, inks, paints, plastics and rubber and is commonly found in many house hold items. Neurological symptoms can result from inhalation exposure to benzene and may include drowsiness, dizziness and headaches. Benzene can also be found in higher amounts in Tobacco smoke.
Trichloroethylene is a commonly used extraction solvent for greases, oil, fats, waxes and tars. Trichloroethylene can be found in typewriter correction fluids, paint removers/ strippers, adhesives, spot removers and rug cleaning fluids. Inhalation of trichloroethylene may cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, euphoria, facial numbness and weakness. Liver, kidney immunological, endocrine and developmental effects have been reported. The EPA is currently reassessing the cancer classification of trichloroethylene.
The micrograms of these chemicals removed from the air by common interior plants during a 24 hour period is impressive: for example, sesevieriea laurentii (snake plant) removed 31,294 Micrograms of Formaldehyde in a 24 hour period. A dracaena Janet Craig removed 77.6% of benzene from the air in a sealed room within a 24 hour period.
Although it we may be unable to avoid exposure to these toxic chemicals as they are crucial and integrated into the products we count on in daily life, we can at least lesson our exposure by introducing tropical exotic plants throughout our interior spaces.