According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sick building syndrome accounts for up to 61 billion dollars a year in health costs, productivity and absenteeism. It is an affliction that affects many employees who work indoors in office complexes.

It’s not surprising that employers would like to see this syndrome reversed for a win-win situation where employees will be healthier and enjoy their daily work at the same time as the employer enjoys higher productivity and ultimately, higher profits.

Just what is this Sick Building Syndrome?

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.” These health effects can include headaches, mild nausea or dizziness, and dry throat or cough. The symptoms tend to go away when those that suffer from them are no longer exposed to the building space.

So, what causes it?

Most people don’t realise how many pollutants are found in office buildings. Indoor air pollutants known and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) come from many wood products, adhesives, carpets and underlays, chemicals and many other common items found in office buildings. Outdoor air pollutants (such as exhaust fumes), can also enter the office through ventilation systems causing the indoors air circulation to be worse than that outside the building!

Can plants really help?

Plants (real ones, not artificial) are great at removing these VOCs and purifying the air in indoor environments. Studies performed 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. The Green Building Council of Australia uses plants as one of its ‘Green Star Rating’ tools to assess the sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings. These plants must be installed and maintained by professional Indoor Plant Hire companies to ensure they remain healthy in order to be effective in removing VOCs. This not only creates a healthy place for people to live and work, but it saves money and minimises the environmental footprint. Read More…

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