- Indoor air is high in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) increasing risk for sick building syndrome.
- Addition of indoor plants lower levels of VOC
- Bromeliad indoor plants lower the level of volatile organic pollutants.
Most people spend more time indoors, whether it is at work or at home. This makes the quality of air that is present indoors a very important aspect to maintaining good health and avoiding such sick building syndrome.
‘Use the indoor bromeliad plant to lower the risk of sick building syndrome.’
AdvertisementA new study has shown that indoor air pollution, which includes the harmful volatile organic compounds, can be improved to a large extent by growing certain types of indoor plants.
Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution is a major health concern with WHO reporting that 4.3 million people die every year due to the effects of this form of pollution. In Asia, the highest level of volatile organic compounds is released during the combustion
- Of biofuels and coals which constitute 34%
- Of fuel for transportation constituting 27%
- Hobby activities
- Aerosols like hair spray or deodorants
- Air fresheners
- Mosquito repellents
- Clothes that have been dry cleaned
- Stored fuel
- Office equipments like scanners and printers
- Building material
Sick building syndrome is a significant disorder that affects many people working in offices, shops or even while staying at home when the level VOC is very high. This condition can affect the productivity of the individual and lead to symptoms that include
- Chest pain
- Loss of concentration
- Itchy eyes
- Nose or throat irritation
- Hoarse voice
- Sensitivity to smell
- Nose bleed
- Flu-like syndrome
Indoor air pollution can be further controlled by storing paints and building material outside and by lowering the use of aerosols.
Lowering Indoor Levels of VOC
Dr. Vadoud Niri and colleagues from The State University of New York in Oswego carried out a study that looked at indoor plants to lower such pollution. They found that there were certain species of plants that were better at controlling indoor air pollution than other plants.
Dr. Niri warns about the high level of VOC that may be present indoors, "Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them."
Testing for Removal of VOC by Indoor Plants
The researchers built a chamber that had several VOCs at specific concentrations. They placed specific plants in the chamber and noticed the concentration of the VOC.
Five indoor plants that are commonly placed inside the house and 8 VOCs were tested in this experiment.
For every plant that was placed in the chamber, the scientists examined
- How much of the VOC was removed by the plant
- Which VOC was removed by the plant
- How long it took to remove VOC
Dr. Niri discusses the results the team observed "Based on our results, we can recommend what plants are good for certain types of VOCs and for specific locations. To illustrate, the bromeliad plant was very good at removing six out of eight studied VOCs -- it was able to take up more than 80 percent of each of those compounds -- over the twelve-hour sampling period. So it could be a good plant to have sitting around in the household or workplace."
As a next step, the researchers would like to test the effectiveness of the indoor plants in removing VOC in a nail salon. Nail salons are known to have high levels of acetone and would be ideal testing ground for these plants.
The primary results were obtained from testing the plants in a closed glass cabinet and it would be interesting to see if the plants are equally effective in a more homogeneous setting.
However, placing bromeliad plants inside the house will add cheer and clean the air, both of which are essential to an individual's well being.
- The sick building syndrome - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796751/)
- Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality - (https:www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality)
- Household (Indoor) Air Pollution - (http://www.who.int/indoorair/en/)
- Volatile organic compounds and their measurements in the troposphere - (http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Volatile%20organic%20compounds.pdf)