Green plants at work

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Kentia palms in the wild on Lord Howe Island. Photo:David Morgan-Mar
Kentia palms in the wild on Lord Howe Island. Photo:David Morgan-Mar

Green plants at work can clear the air in offices.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are shed from plastic furniture and appliances in offices and end up in the air you breathe. However, potplants efficiently mop up airborn chemicals.

Margaret Burchett, Ronald Wood, Ralph Orwell and colleagues from the Plants and Environmental Quality Group at the University of Technology in Sydney, have measured how effective plants are at removing VOCs from the office air.

They found that the plants removed about 70% of VOCs at concentrations above 100ppb. Both the plant metabolism and the soil microorganisms are involved in removing the VOCs from the air.

The three plants used in the study are all common house plants:

  • Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm)
  • Spathiphyllum wallisii var. Petite (Peace Lily)
  • Dracaena deremensis var. Janet Craig.

These three plants at least and probably many others would be good to look out for if you want to remove at least some of the chemicals from the air in your workplace.

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