Indoor plants not only drastically improve air quality in your home or office, they can actually reduce stress and make you happier
Indoor air can be really unhealthy
It’s hard to fathom, but the air we breathe indoors may contain 10 times more pollutants than outdoor air. Synthetic materials in our modern, energy-efficient buildings and in our furniture can emit various organic compounds that react together, creating toxins that cause coughs, eye irritation, sinus problems and feelings of moodiness. There’s even a name for this: sick building syndrome. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that almost a third of new and remodelled buildings around the world have poor air quality.
NASA has invested heavily in researching this phenomenon, as venturing into space obviously involves living in small, unventilated areas packed with modern technology – a recipe for toxic air. In one study NASA found that plants were “the most promising means of alleviating sick building syndrome”. They discovered that microorganisms in the soil biodegrade toxic chemicals when activated by a plant’s root growth.
Plants can improve our energy levels –and our health
A Norwegian study split 60 office workers into two groups, each spending one year with plants in their office cubicle and one year without. The results were extraordinary.
In the year with plants, fatigue was reduced by 30 percent, the incidence of coughs decreased by 37 percent, dry throats by 25 percent, and neuropsychological symptoms (headaches and concentration problems) were reduced by 23 percent. Researchers put these results down to two factors – improved air quality and improved mental health due to being in a more pleasant environment. Which brings us to another great benefit:
Plants make us feel good
Studies have shown that indoor plants reduce stress and mental fatigue as well as increasing pain tolerance. They also significantly increase productivity and mental alertness (something we could all benefit from).
So if you want your home to be a happy, healthy space with less sickness and stress, having plenty of plants around is your best bet. Remember that plants are living organisms so they need light, food and water. And make sure you do your homework and choose plants that filter the air efficiently (see suggestions, right).
Eight top air-purifying indoor plants – that look fabulous, too
+ Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
+ English Ivy (Hedera helix)
+ Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aureus)
+ Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)
+ Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
+ Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
+ Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii)
+ Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Words by: Ryan McQuerry. Photography by: One Shot; (main image) Maree Homer/bauersyndication.com.au.