Table of Contents
The Effect of Indoor Plants
Indoor plants are commonly used for their aesthetic benefits, while their role in reducing airborne pollution is often overlooked. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) studies have found that indoor air pollution averages two to five times higher than outdoors. The average person spends nearly 90 percent of their time inside, predominantly in homes, offices, and schools. The right choice of plants can be an excellent way of improving indoor air quality and general health.
Materials including wood, household chemicals, and plastics used in furniture and various other indoor products can release harmful compounds and gases affecting indoor air quality. Other contributors include cigarette smoke, mold and bacteria, cooking, dander from pets, and cleaning products. These factors coupled with poor ventilation contribute to a condition known as “Sick Building Syndrome”, which is a combination of symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality.
Fatigue, headache, stress, and cold have all been connected with the bioaccumulation of contaminated indoor air. Health Canada reports that numerous visits to the emergency room and medical offices, increased hospitalization, and thousands of premature deaths can be attributed to the negative health effects of poor indoor air quality. While everyone is affected by air quality, children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk of experiencing the adverse effects of indoor air pollution. In children, contaminated air poses significant long and short-term respiratory health risks, including bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma.
indoors plants and his impact on CO2
International research has demonstrated that indoor plants can substantially improve indoor environmental quality, reducing all major types of urban air pollution and directly improving health and well-being of occupants. Our UTS studies have shown that indoor plants can significantly reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and CO2, two classes of air pollutant always higher indoors than outside, even in the center of the city. Indoor plants have a potential for further development so that they can be installed to bring about significant reductions in loads on the air-conditioning (A-C) of city buildings, by reducing the frequency with which the A-Cs must cut in to refresh air when CO2 levels get too high. A recent UTS office study showed us that any plant CO2 reductions may be masked by modern A-C systems, indicating potentially unnecessary energy use. The building sector accounts for one-third of global energy use, so reductions here would contribute to sustainability goals.
The aim of this laboratory study was to examine, under a range of test light intensities, both the photosynthetic light responses of individual leaves and of whole-potted-plant net CO2 reductions, in nine commonly used indoor species. Whole-plant responses need to be considered, since photosynthetic CO2 uptake occurs only in the green shoots, and only under adequate light, while respiratory emissions of CO2 are being produced continually in the non-green plant parts, and by the potting mix microorganisms. This project is the first systematic comparative research to have been made on the photosynthetic characteristics of indoor plants.
Results for net CO2
Results for net CO2 removal were calculated on the basis of CO2 removal per potted-plant, per unit leaf area, the number of 200 mm pots need to provide 1 m2 leaf area, and per unit weight of green shoot tissue. The results found that, in the lower range of normal‘ office lighting intensities, the potted-plant microcosm of most of the test species would not be able to achieve the net CO2 reductions required to reduce significantly the load on the A-C systems. However, the results also indicate that with horticultural lighting technology applied to indoor plant installations such as plant walls, vertical gardens, break-out‘ zones and the like, the plants do indeed have the potential to reduce A-C loads significantly, and suggestions for future horticultural technology R&D are offered. The findings thus provide a basis for developing horticultural technology for the deployment of indoor plants to maintain lower indoor CO2 levels, reducing the A-C energy requirements of city buildings, contributing to remediation of the built environment and assisting the goal urban sustainability.
Health Benefits of Plants
Plants can be aesthetically pleasing and excellent decorative items. Flowering plants fill rooms with colors that can improve mood, help relax the mind, and increase creativity and productivity. There are further advantages of having plants indoors, which include significant physical health benefits.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are byproducts of a variety of materials and processes that contribute to indoor air pollution. The most common VOCs posing a risk to health are formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. As natural air filters, plants can significantly reduce the concentration of VOCs and other harmful substances in indoor environments while enriching the oxygen content of the air. NASA studies concluded that plants are capable of reducing the presence of airborne mold spores and bacteria by up to 60%. Understandably, different plants have varying abilities to cleanse indoor pollutants. As such, it is important to make an informed decision when purchasing a plant that links the most suitable variety with the sources of VOCs present in the indoor environment.
Plants filter harmful substances out of the air and encourage healthy living conditions, acting as natural humidifiers by emitting water vapor and creating a comfortable atmosphere for building occupants. While any plant grown inside will help improve overall air quality, some are particularly useful in removing airborne contaminants as noted in the preceding discussion. Improving indoor air quality and your health and those of your family members is easy. Simply find the plants you like and beautify your home while also improving the quality of the air you breathe.