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Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) How Indoor Plants Can Make The Air Healthier

Sick building syndrome is something that afflicts many employees that work regularly in indoor office complexes.  It can affect productivity, health and well being of employees and ultimately business profits.

Headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, allergies, skin irritation, and dryness are just some of the serious health impacts from poor indoor air quality.  When people experience these acute symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality, health authorities refer to their condition as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

The Environmental Protection Agency defines sick building syndrome as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.

The symptoms tend to go away when those that suffer from them are no longer exposed to the building space.  Sick building syndrome accounts for up to 61 billion dollars a year in health costs, productivity and absenteeism.

Sick Building Syndrome Sick Employee

What Causes Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome can be attributed to indoor air pollutants known as Volatile Organic Chemicals also called VOCs.  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are byproducts of a variety of materials and processes that contribute to indoor air pollution.

The most common VOCs posing a risk to health are formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.  Materials including wood, household chemicals, and plastics used in furniture and various other indoor products can release harmful compounds and gases affecting indoor air quality.

Other contributors include cigarette smoke, mold and bacteria, cooking, dander from pets, and cleaning products.  Sick building syndrome can also be caused by poor air circulation or ventilating outdoor air pollutants, such as exhaust, into the building.

While sick building syndrome is a problem for many companies, interior landscaping can help.  The average person spends nearly 90 percent of their time inside, predominantly in homes, offices and schools. The right choice of plants can be an excellent way of improving indoor air quality and general health.

There are traditional strategies to improve indoor air quality such as adequate ventilation and the removal of materials causing pollution.  However, indoor plants represent a strategy to provide healthier indoor air.

Sick Building Syndrome Healthy Plants

As natural air filters, plants can significantly reduce the concentration of VOCs and other harmful substances in indoor environments while enriching the oxygen content of the air. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) studies concluded that plants are capable of reducing the presence of airborne mold spores and bacteria by up to 60%.

There are further advantages of having plants indoors—which include significant physical health benefits.  Plants filter harmful substances out of the air and encourage healthy living conditions, acting as natural humidifiers by emitting water vapor and creating a comfortable atmosphere for building occupants.

While any plant grown inside will help improve overall air quality, some are particularly useful in removing airborne contaminants.

Living plants can help combat sick building syndrome by purifying the air in indoor environments.  Tropical plants are particularly good at removing VOCs from the air through natural processes.

Studies conducted by NASA have found that at least one living plant per 100 square feet of floor space can help clean air in an office building.  More concentrated living plants will remove VOCs at a higher rate.

Common indoor plants such as the peace lily, bromeliads, philodendrons, pothos, English ivy, Dracaena are some of the indoor plants that are efficient at removing VOCs. These VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene. Indoor plants concentrated in problem areas can help relieve the symptoms of sick building syndrome.

Sick Building Syndrome Pothos

Understandably, different plants have varying abilities to cleanse indoor pollutants.  As such, it is important to make an informed decision when purchasing a plant that links the most suitable variety with the sources of VOCs present in the indoor environment.

In addition to removing dangerous air pollutants, plants have been shown to reduce heating and cooling costs while creating quieter working spaces.  Not only can plants physically improve the environment, but they have positive psychological impacts as well.

Plants can be aesthetically pleasing and excellent decorative items as well. Flowering plants fill rooms with colors that can improve mood, help relax the mind, and increase creativity and productivity.

By providing a healthier environment for employees, businesses can cut back on costs related to health concerns and absenteeism.  Healthier employees have better morale and are typically more productive.

An investment in interior landscaping can improve work environment and ultimately have an impact on the bottom line.  Interior landscaping, not only adds to the professional ambiance, but also makes the office space physically and mentally healthier.

Inside Plants is the best indoor plant service.  We provide creative designs for both home and office using living plants to bring the freshness and beauty of the outdoors inside.  Our certified landscape professionals are experts in interior plant maintenance and design. Whether you are looking for indoor plant rentals, sales and maintenance, or plant design, give us a call.

Tags: Sick Building Syndrome, Benefits of Indoor Plants, unhealth buildings, Indoor Plants advantages, SBS

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