A daisy on your desk and a philodendron on the filing cabinet will do more than just brighten up your cubicle. Adding plants to your office can also help clean the air.
You spend 90 percent of your time indoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that poor indoor air quality can cause health problems ranging from headaches, dizziness, and fatigue to eyes, nose, and throat irritation.
The furnishings, upholstery, building materials, and cleaning products used in an office can emit several indoor air pollutants. Indoor air quality is also negatively affected by outdoor pollutants, such as pollen, bacteria, and mold. The indoor air may quality be worse in an office because of inadequate ventilation, especially if it’s located in an older building.
In 1989, NASA published a report, Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement, stating that plants acted as humidifiers and air filters, helping absorb pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and thus improving indoor air quality.
Houseplants clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide and particulates and releasing oxygen. The microbes in potting soil also play a role by breaking down toxins in the air.
Picking the Right Plants
Not all plants thrive in all environments.
Some plants, such as succulents, daisies, palms, and birds of paradise, need a lot of sunlight, so they are better suited to offices with south-or west-facing windows than windowless cubicles.
In contrast, the leaves on houseplants such as philodendrons, golden pothos, and ferns will burn if the plants are placed in direct sunlight; these plants prefer low light or filtered light, making them good choices for cubicles.
Look at the care tag that comes with a houseplant to learn about its care requirements, and pick plants that are best suited for your office environment.
NASA research showed that you need to use one potted plant per 100 square feet to effectively clean the air, which means that just one plant in a 10’-by-10’ cubicle will improve air quality in your corner of the office.
A 2011 study found that six potted plants in a classroom reduced concentrations of carbon dioxide, VOCs, and particulate matter. Researchers concluded that “plants might improve indoor air and make interior breathing spaces healthier.”
Plants and Performance
Houseplants do more than dress up your office space and improve indoor air quality. Having plants at work may also improve your productivity.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that employees were 15 percent more productive when they worked in offices with houseplants. Other research has shown that plants reduce stress and improve creativity.
In another study, researchers at Kansas State University found that patients who had plants in their hospital rooms requested less pain medication, had lower blood pressure, and reported less fatigue and anxiety. If houseplants can have such a big impact in the hospital, imagine how a few plants on your desk can improve your sense of wellbeing at work.
Adding houseplants to the office can also decrease colds, headaches, coughing, and sore throats; Norwegian researchers found that sickness rates fell more than 60 percent in offices with plants.
Plants do more than make an office pretty. These leafy powerhouses improve indoor air quality, boost productivity, and enhance your health – that’s a lot of benefits from a small plant!
Reprinted with permission from our friends at Fix.com/blog
Learn more about the top twenty clean air houseplants
About the author:
Having appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Modern Farmer and Entrepreneur, and Hemispheres, Jodi Helmer has established herself as a food and farming guru. When she isn’t busy writing she loves spending time in her garden and raising bees at her home in North Carolina.