If you often feel tired and slightly "under the weather" at work, you may well be experiencing the recognised symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS is a phenomenon where people have symptoms such as respiratory and sinus congestion, skin rashes, coughs, headaches and tiredness, when they are in certain buildings or indoor spaces. Many people report relief from these symptoms once they leave the building.
The cause of SBS is predominantly emissions from synthetic building materials and furnishings that release volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as benzene and formaldehyde. These VOCs are often carcinogenic and if there's a lack of adequate ventilation, they may cause or exacerbate symptoms of sickness. New research has also shown that indoor VOCs are associated with an increased relative risk of lymphoma and leukemia.
The National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) have long been concerned with creating healthy, sealed space habitats. NASA's study analysed whether indoor plants could remove toxic agents from the air. They discovered that the leaves, roots, soil and microorganisms did indeed remove trace organic pollutants from indoor air, and some plants do it better than others.
Further research on the benefits of indoor plants has validated the NASA findings, including a 2007 study that monitored the effects of plants on 60 single-occupant offices. The results showed significant reductions in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and the authors recommended that indoor plants should be a vital element of future building.
So what plants are the best air purifiers? Download our look-book of the most effective air-purifying plants for indoor spaces.