Indoor Plants and Human Health and Wellbeing Australian scientists move one step closer to proving
10 February 2010
Australian scientists move one step closer to proving the link between the humble indoor plant and human health and wellbeing
Initial laboratory results coming out of Sydney clearly indicate the potential of indoor plants to help reduce indoor CO2 levels. Also, for reasons yet to be explored, it has been found that the presence of coconut fibre finish significantly increases the efficiency of pot plants in reducing both CO2 and CO.
Other results include indoor plants having greater effect in newer buildings. It is assumed that the furniture and fittings in newer buildings have intrinsically lower toxin levels and air-conditioning systems are more efficient. Scientists also concluded that wet and windy weather conditions may also contribute to cleaning the air generally during testing.
Building occupant reaction has also been very encouraging, helping confirm the growing international body of evidence that greening the great indoors contributes to building occupant satisfaction.
Last year, Australia’s National Interior Plantscape Association joined forces with the global leaders in plant ecotoxicology, based at the University of Technology Sydney, and the Commonwealth Government to undertake a three-year research and development study to test if low numbers of indoor plants do benefit both human health and air quality.
More than 900 papers from more than 100 journals and conferences have already been catalogued by the US National Science and Technology Council supporting the link between indoor plant and human health. Europe also has a very large body of technically sound studies and documentation linking health and productivity with specific building designs and operations. On the basis of these and earlier findings, the Green Building Council of Australia has adopted a "Green Star" rating for the inclusion of indoor plants in new buildings.
However, Australia’s National Interior Plantscape Association, the Federal Government arm — Horticultural Australia Limited (HAL) — and the University of Technology Sydney team acknowledge there is further research and development needed to prove beyond all doubt that the indoor potted plant microcosm (PPM) is indeed a remedy for the 400 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) identified in indoor air, coming from outdoor air.
The issues being addressed through this research include questions about indoor plants in the workplace commonly asked by professionals in the interior plantscape industry, office workers, building owners and managers and other would-be buyers of indoor plants, including: "Do indoor plants really make a difference on how people feel at work?". "Can one or two indoor plants really have an effect on indoor air quality?" and "How many plants are actually needed?" These issues are being addressed in the three-year study.
Estimates of productivity increases by office workers gained from working alongside live indoor plants vary from zero to as high as 30–50 per cent. Increased numbers of CH2 type Green Star buildings are the result of greater environmental awareness by office employees and unions. Reduced litigation related to VOCs in the workplace is also an anticipated benefit. The bottom line will be relief for interior plantscapers who can look forward to supporting their current assertions with quality Australian-based research in the future.
The National Interior Plantscape Association (NIPA) is an industry peak body providing targeted benefits and outcomes to its membership base. The role of NIPA is to actively promote indoor plant hire, co-ordinate and increase membership and, most importantly, to provide a forum for communication within the industry. NIPA is a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting, developing and enhancing the use and appreciation of interior plants to benefit humans in the workplace and home.
For all your interior Plantscaping needs contact NIPA for professional contacts, products and services.
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