NaturesWay Interior Plantscape, Inc. Creating eco-friendly interior greenspace for today's modern office
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Information for you to think about.

Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Take a look around your office. You are surrounded by unavoidable noxious gases. Common things that we are around day in and day out. To remove these gases it requires one plant per 100sqft of office space. The math is easy if you have 1000sqft office you would need 10 plants. Research is currently underway to determine the size and amount needed to effectively remove VOC's from the air, although initial results seem to show that the size of the plant doen't matter.

In 1984 NASA first published studies demonstrating that interior plants could remove VOCs from sealed test chambers.

Having many interior plants in an office environment will reduce burning eyes and respiratory discomfort, both classic symptoms of "sick building syndrome"

Formaldehyde:

is the most commonly unavoidable noxious gas.

Commonly known items that off gas Formaldehyde

Carpeting, Ceiling tiles, Draperies, Fabrics, Facial tissues, Floor coverings, Paints, and Paper towels, and the list goes on.

Indoor air pollution is a serious concern, particularly in the winter months, when closed windows and doors means ventilation is reduced. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities."

Air-conditioned rooms, synthetic building materials and inadequate ventilation cause numerous respiratory and nervous disorders.

The mere presence of plants has been proved to lessen environmental pollution, increase labor productivity, reduce the number of sick days and reduce the cost of health care .

Adhesive:

An adhesive, or glue, is a mixture in a liquid or semi-liquid state that adheres or bonds items together. Adhesives may come from either natural or synthetic sources. Some modern adhesives are extremely strong, and are becoming increasingly important in modern construction and industry. The types of materials that can be bonded using adhesives are virtually limitless.

The building industry placed a high priority on energy consumption and conservation. As a result, both old and new buildings were made more energy efficient. Coinciding with these measures, came a change in the use of natural building materials and furnishings to a more widespread use of synthetic materials. While a tightly sealed building is more energy efficient, it quickly became apparent that trapped within these structures were a mix of emissions of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from chemically formulated personal care products, carpeting, fabrics, pesticides, business machines, bioeffluents (emitted in the human breathing process) and airborne microbes. All of these factors teamed together to create a chemical pea soup and resultant complaints of poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

Study by NASA and ALCA

A study by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) resulted in excellent news for homeowners and office workers everywhere. The study concluded that common houseplants such as bamboo palms and spider plants not only make indoor spaces more attractive, they also help to purify the air!

The study was conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, in 1989. While it was originally intended to find ways to purify the air for extended stays in our orbiting space station, the study proved to have implications on Earth as well.

Newer homes and buildings, designed for energy efficiency, are often tightly sealed to avoid energy loss from heating and air conditioning systems. Synthetic building materials are used in modern construction have been found to produce potential pollutants that remain trapped in these unventilated buildings.

The trapped pollutants result in what is often called the Sick Building Syndrome. With our modern homes and offices that are virtually sealed off from the outside environment, this study is just as important now as when it was first published.

While it’s a well known fact that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, the NASA/ALCA study showed that many houseplants also remove harmful elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air.

NASA and ALCA spent two years testing 19 different common houseplants for their ability to remove these common pollutants from the air. Of the 19 plants they studied, 17 are considered true houseplants, and two, gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums, are more commonly used indoors as seasonal decorations.

The advantage that houseplants have over other plants is that they are adapted to tropical areas where they grow beneath dense tropical canopies and must survive in areas of low light. These plants are thus ultra-efficient at capturing light, which also means that they must be very efficient in processing the gasses necessary for photosynthesis. Because of this fact, they have greater potential to absorb other gases, including potentially harmful ones.

In the study NASA and ALCA tested primarily for three chemicals: Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Trichloroethylene. Formaldehyde is used in many building materials including particle board and foam insulations. Additionally, many cleaning products contain this chemical. Benzene is a common solvent found in oils and paints. Trichloroethylene is used in paints, adhesives, inks, and varnishes.

While NASA found that some of the plants were better than others for absorbing these common pollutants, all of the plants had properties that were useful in improving overall indoor air quality.

NASA also noted that some plants are better than others in treating certain chemicals.

For example, English ivy, gerbera daisies, pot mums, peace lily, bamboo palm, and Mother-in-law's Tongue were found to be the best plants for treating air contaminated with Benzene. The peace lily, gerbera daisy, and bamboo palm were very effective in treating Trichloroethylene.

Additionally, NASA found that the bamboo palm, Mother-in-law's tongue, dracaena warneckei, peace lily, dracaena marginata, golden pathos, and green spider plant worked well for filtering Formaldehyde.