- Indoor air is high in
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) increasing risk for sick building syndrome.
of indoor plants lower levels of VOC
- Bromeliad indoor
plants lower the level of volatile organic pollutants.
Indoor air pollution is
a not well known entity however sometimes the indoor air has been found to be
more polluted than outdoor air causing a condition called sick building
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.’
A 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
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
- Of fuel for transportation constituting 27%
compounds constitute the largest percentage of indoor air pollution and gases
like benzene, formaldehyde and acetone that are emitted from certain solids and
liquids. There are many household products that release VOC into the air.
- Aerosols like hair
spray or deodorants
- Air fresheners
- Clothes that have been dry
- Stored fuel
- Office equipments
like scanners and printers
All these products can
lead to an increase in the level of VOC in indoor air and it can lead to the
development of symptoms. This condition in which an individual develops an
acute or chronic health condition due to the time spent in a building is called
"sick building syndrome".
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
- Itchy eyes
- Nose or
- Sensitivity to smell
In order to lower the
risk of gaining sick building syndrome, the study conducted on using indoor
plants that offers a simple solution and does not require expensive humidifiers
or air filters to lower indoor air pollution.
Indoor air pollution can
be further controlled by storing paints and building material outside and by
lowering the use of aerosols.
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
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.
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
- Which VOC was removed by the
- How long it took to remove VOC
The researchers found
variations in the level of VOC that was taken up by the plants. All the five
plants that were tested took up acetone but the dracaena plant was found to
remove nearly 80% of acetone.
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
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)