- Apr 23, 2019
In celebration of Earth Week, running April 22 (Earth Day) through April 26, making healthy choices, no matter how small, can benefit the environment. Events are being held across the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Week reminds us to think about the condition of our environment and that the demand we place on our natural resources can affect our carbon footprint. When our collective use of the Earth’s resources outweighs what we give back, we lose balance, or sustainability. Being sustainable means preventing the depletion of natural resources with the purpose of maintaining a stable balance in our environment. Below we explore the idea of improving indoor air quality with the help of plants.
The human body breathes about 388 cubic feet of air day, which is the equivalent of 1-2 bedrooms worth of ‘stuff’. The involuntary act of breathing is triggered by the brain automatically. However, the quality of the air consumed by the occupant can be improved and translated to increased productivity in the workplace.
What is indoor air pollution and how bad is it?
According to the EPA, indoor air is between two to five times more harmful than outdoor air. Pollutants in the air that creates the harmful air include, but not limited to, biological contaminates (i.e. mold, pollen), carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (i.e. formaldehyde) which are emitted from clothes, cleaning products, synthetic building materials, aerosol spray cans and furnishings, for example. Air contains 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen and traces of other components with the body consuming 5% of the oxygen to convert into carbon dioxide. As pollutants are introduced in the air, the level of oxygen decreases in each breath. Given that people spend 90% of their times indoors per the CDC, the body is constantly working harder to get the pure oxygen it needs which translates to increased stress and reduced productivity in the workplace.
How can we improve the quality of indoor air?
Introduction of plants to the workplace is one of the ways to improve the quality of indoor air. Certain indoor plants such as the ZZ plant, Garden Mums, Spider Plant and Aloe Vera have air purifying capabilities such as removing significant amounts of formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air dependent on the species. The ZZ plant is a great choice as it requires little sunlight and does not need to be watered daily.
What other benefits will be observed and realized by using plants?
Plants also brighten the workplace which improves mood, sparks creativity and improves focus. The simple act of watering the plant, even if it is only for a few minutes, helps the occupant feel relaxed by taking a break and then returning to work more refreshed and focused.
Educate and encourage employees to bring plants to the workplace to help elevate indoor air quality and to improve overall well-being. The human body takes about 20,000 breaths per day and each breath is a pathway for pollutants to enter the body. Make each breath count.
Air Quality Awareness Week is April 29–May 3, 2019.