The quality of the air we breathe is key to ensuring our general health and well-being, so it’s important that it’s clean and of the highest quality. As an employer, one of the ways you can improve the air in your workplace is through the addition of air purifying plants. Whether it’s a school or a hospital, or a hotel, restaurant or corporate office, every business premise should reap the benefits of fresher air.
There are a number of reasons that plants are good for the air, and why NASA (who published a famous study on the best air purifying plants in 1989) refers to them as “nature’s life support system”. One of the key functions of plants is reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, which is beneficial to human health as exposure can cause headaches, seizures, tinnitus (a ringing in the ears), and vertigo (dizziness and light headiness). Breathing in high levels of carbon dioxide for extended periods of time can also be life-threatening.
However, lowering the levels of CO2 in the air is also vital for ensuring the health of our planet, as it’s a greenhouse gas that’s raising the temperature of the Earth. This threatens natural life by causing sea levels to rise and our oceans to become more acidic.
Carbon dioxide is most commonly released by cars, trains, and any other vehicles that burn fossil fuels.
Nonetheless, one thing you might not be aware of is that it’s also emitted by electrical appliances that are likely to be present in your workplace, including computers, televisions, and refrigerators.
As well as CO2, another benefit of plants is that they’re able to remove bacteria, mould, and dust from the air. In fact, plants have been proven to reduce the amount of dust in a room by around 20%. These are all things that can easy build-up in busy premises, and because dust mites and mould spores cause allergies, they can leave your employees and visitors sneezing and coughing and with dry eyes are sore throats! Not only that, but they’re known triggers for asthma attacks.
NASA’s Clean Air Study (which was published in the 80s) found that there are many plants that remove harmful everyday toxins from the air. Like mould, dust and (of course) CO2, these can leave your staff and any visitors to your premises feeling unwell. This is because they also cause the likes of headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, irritated eyes, and sore throats.
Chances are, many of the items you’ll find in your workplace pollute the air by releasing these everyday toxins. As an example, benzene is found in plastic resins and paints, ammonia is found in many cleaning products, and formaldehyde is emitted by paper towels, carpets, plywood, tissues, and even computer equipment.
One of the best plants to remove these are toxins and pollutants from the air is the Snake Plant (which is sometimes also referred to as ‘Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). According to NASA’s study, this is the best plant for the task as it’s able to remove at least 107 known pollutants from the air. However, Weeping Fig, Red-edged Dracaenas, Chrysanthemums, Peace Lilies, and Boston Ferns are also amongst the best air purifying plants; and the larger and leafier the plant, the better!
Finally, plants are effective at raising the humidity levels in a room. This stops the air from getting too dry, which aggregates asthma and allergies, encourages the spread of colds and flu, and in some cases, it can even cause dehydration (which can be serious if left untreated). So, by investing in indoor plants, you can prevent your business from losing money by reducing the amount of sick days being taken by your employees.
If you need any more convincing of the benefits of plants in offices and other workplaces, they’ve also been proven to improve your mood and productivity by increasing creativity, and reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger. Plants are also a great addition to hospitals because their presence can help to calm stressed out doctors and nurses, and they promote healing in patients.