House Plants Reduce VOC’s and Create Healthier Environments

gerbera-daisy-house plants reduce VOCs

House Plants Can Contribute to Healthier Indoor Environments

We spend about 90% of our time indoors. While inside, we are exposed to a variety of indoor air pollutants. Reducing or removing these pollutants and creating an optimal indoor environment is important to our health and well- being. House plants reduce VOCs and are an easy and inexpensive way to improve our indoor environments.

Plants offer multiple benefits. They purify our air by reducing various pollutants and reducing carbon dioxide levels. They have also been shown to boost productivity, reduce stress, enhance well-being, and promote workplace satisfaction. They are also beneficial to recovery and stress reduction in hospitals.

House Plants Reduce VOC’s using Air Filtration

peace-lily

Peace Lily

Indoor air pollution can induce Sick-Building-Syndrome (SBS), with symptoms of coughing, wheezing, headaches, sore eyes, nose, or throat, loss of concentration and nausea. Common indoor air pollutants include, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide and dioxide, fine particulate matter, and ozone, and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs). House plants reduce VOCs.

House plants reduce VOC’s by absorbing them from the air into their leaves and then translocate them to their root zone, where microbes break them down. Microbes in the soil can use trace amounts of pollutants as a food source. Root tissues also take in aqueous solutions and air, and uptake by root tissues can also purify air. A study from NASA found that certain plants removed a significant amount of the VOCs formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. The findings showed that some plants removed certain VOCs by as much as 90%. House plants reduce VOCs and the plants used in this study were Bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, Ficus, Gerbera daisy, Janet Craig, Marginata, Mass cane/Corncane,  Mother-in-law’s tongue, Peace lily, Pot mum, and Warneckei. Other studies have found that Areca palm, Lady palm, Rubber plant, Philodendron, Dwarf date palm, and Boston ferns can also remove a significant amount of VOCs. More information on VOC filtration can be found in the links below:

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Plants/clean.htm

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf

http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/of-39.pdf

House plants reduce VOCs and CO2

chinese evergreen house plants reduce VOCs

Chinese Evergreen

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a surrogate for indoor pollutants emitted by humans and correlates with human metabolic activity. Carbon dioxide at levels that are unusually high indoors may cause occupants to grow drowsy, get headaches, or function at lower activity levels. An office study from the University of Technology, Sydney notes that plants can remove up to 10 percent of the carbon dioxide in the air in air conditioned buildings and 25% in naturally ventilated buildings. They also found that in their study, three to six plants in the office can keep air toxins far below the recommended total. A link to the study is provided below:

http://www.inive.org/members_area/medias/pdf/inive%5Ciaqvec2007%5Ctarran.pdf

The Biophilia Hypothesis

The Biophilia Hypothesis suggests there is a bond between human beings and nature. This bond (or absence of this bond) can affect our health and wellbeing. House plants can play a role in this. A study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Norwegian University of Life Sciences found that an environment devoid of nature can, including the visual absence of plants, can have an undesirable impact on health or quality of life. On the other hand, contact with Nature has been reported to have psychological benefits by reducing stress, improving attention, by having a positive effect on mental restoration, and by coping with attention deficits. In addition to mental advantages, there appear to be direct physical health benefits, such as increased longevity, and self-reported health.

Other studies have also demonstrated that house plants reduce VOCs by adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms – symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome.

Adding plants to hospital rooms also leads to significantly shorter hospitalizations, fewer intakes of analgesics, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms when compared with patients in rooms without plants, according to a study from Kansas State University. House plants reduce VOCs and were even found to increase pain tolerance in simulated hospital rooms.

More information on Biophilia can be found below:

http://www.actahort.org/books/639/639_31.htm

http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/44/1/102.full.pdf+html

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/6/9/2332/htm

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/12/12204/htm

3 Responses to “House Plants Reduce VOC’s and Create Healthier Environments”

  1. […] This last point was discussed by Kevin Cordes in a recent article published in Environmental Testing, Green Building, Consulting, Healing Building Inspections & Testing, entitled “House Plants Can Contribute to Healthier Indoor Environments.” (http://healthybuildingscience.com/2016/11/18/house-plants-reduce-vocs/) […]

  2. Alex Stadtner says :

    Truly a win-win-win solution. Those plants will look lovely (biophilia), process CO2, AND clean the air!
    Enjoy,
    HBS

  3. Dwayne says :

    Hardware stores seem to have a pretty decent selection here in Houston. The prices seem OK too, which should permit us to have a decent number more quickly . Im assuming that the Bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, Peace Lily etc are all indoor capable. They look like nice choices. We will be increasing our indoor plant count substantially!

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