Physiological Benefits

Volatile Organic Compounds ( VOC’s ) in Indoor Air, and How Indoor Plants Remove Them.

It is a well established fact that indoor air contains many VOCs that can pose a significant health risk. Volatile Organic Compounds such as formaldehyde, from wall paneling and furniture, and Xylene and Tolyene, from paints and carpets, are but a few of the mainly VOCs identified in indoor air. Many of these VOCs are known carcinogens and together they contribute toward a health problem called “Sick Building Syndrome” , the symptoms of which can include headaches, nausea, fatigue and eye nose and skin irritations.

The CSIRO estimates that the health cost of poor indoor air quality in Australia may be as high as $12 billion per annum. For further information see:

In the early 1980 , work by Dr.Wolverton on the indoor air pollution in the NASA Skylab project found that common house plants have the ability to reduce the levels of VOCs in sealed experimental chambers.

Wolverton’s book “ECO Friendly House Plants” lists the ability of many common house plants to remove Volatile Organic Compounds from Indoor Air. This book is available from and also from Green Design.

Most of the recent research on this subject has been carried out at the University of Technology in Sydney by researchers such as Donald Wood and Margaret Burchett. In particular they are starting to hone in on the exact mechanism by which indoor plants remove VOCs from the indoor air, and also are quantifying (through field trials), the density of plant material required.

Basically it was found that VOCs are removed by microorganisms living in the soil near the roots, and that three or even fewer plants per 10 square metres of office space can remove significantly the level of Volatile Organic Compounds in the office air. The following papers and web sites provide further information:

Using pot plants to clean indoor air

The Green Building Council of Australia recognizes the benefits of indoor plants and awards proper use with two points towards a Green Star rating.

Green Design has available all the latest research on which indoor plants are best at removing VOCs from indoor air, and we can provide you free of charge with our knowledge and experience, or we can commission independent experts to monitor your office and recommend indoor plant solutions.

Aspidistra in blue and white Star Planters
Aspidistra like other plants can remove VOCs from indoor air
Aglaonemas in light blue Dual Top Planters
Only a few of these indoor plants will significantly lower the level of Volatile Organic Compounds in your office air

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