A prerequisite when creating a healthy environment

“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.” ~ Byron Dorgan

The primary cause of many acute and chronic illnesses in the workplace has been directly attributed to the existence of uncontrolled air pollutants. Skin, eye and upper respiratory tract irritation often result from the presence of volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. Asthma, headaches and chronic diseases, including cancer; neurological failure and liver damage have all been linked to VOC’s. In a report tabled by the World Health Organisation in 2002, they state that VOC’s could be responsible for over 1,6m deaths each year.

According to the many conclusive studies on the subject that are now available, indoor plants offer the modern office designer an immediate and effective solution. These studies need to be taken seriously by designers as they show a direct correlation between indoor plants, air quality, a healthy environment and productivity. One extensive survey undertaken by Prof. Dr Tøve Fjeld from University of Norway, determined that plants in offices improve both the sense of well-being and the health of workers in a sealed environment.

During a study using sample groups, some located in an environment where plants were present and other similar groups who were not exposed to indoor plants - the study showed that health problems occurred less frequently where plants were present and that the participants felt that the plants added positively to their psychological wellbeing.

Air pollutants within sealed environments number in the thousands. They are emitted into the modern enclosed workplace as vapour from certain solids and liquids. Toxic vapour is released from a multitude of different products ranging from building materials to furnishings and cleaning materials, both during and after usage. These can have adverse short and long-term health effects on both humans and animals.

In her conclusion of the detailed study, Professor Fjeld stated that it was “consequently obvious to assume that the plants can help reduce the costs resulting from short term absence due to illness.”

Despite the evolution of mankind having a seemingly detrimental effect on our natural environment, a symbiotic relationship has always existed between man and plants. The strength of this relationship offers us many opportunities, one of which is to bring something that is 100% natural into the entirely unnatural office environment. The inclusion of indoor plants is fast becoming a prerequisite when planning an efficient and healthy office environment.

Courtesy: Interior Plantscapers Association