Sick building syndrome, which is caused by poor air quality in offices, makes employees ill.
This installation — created by Artist Jo Peel and Dr Ross Cameron (Department of Landscape Architecture) — shows how plants can help to improve the air quality in our workspaces, as well as the health and wellbeing of those who work there.
You’ll never look at that spider plant the same way again…
Plants are nature’s answer to air filtration and conditioning units. They cool the air around us and filter out pollutants. Placing plants in our working environments is one of the best ways to improve that environment.
Our offices are full of small organic pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Given off from printers, paints and carpets, these can cause headaches, sore throats and tiredness – a phenomenon known as sick building syndrome.
Thankfully, plants absorb and deactivate these VOCs and are a useful tool in reducing the occurrence of sick building syndrome in modern offices.
But we are also discovering a lot more about the health benefits of being close to plants!
Plants directly affect our mood, but did you know that different plants influence our mood in different ways?
Viewing green foliage and cool flower colours — blues, purples and whites — relaxes us and has been proven to reduce stress levels. In contrast, hot flower colours — orange, red and yellow — provide moments of joy, or so called ‘positive affect’.
Importantly, both these emotional responses are linked (separately) to longer term mental health benefits.
All in the mind?
We used to think that the benefits of viewing plants were purely psychological, however, recent evidence suggests some benefits are actually physical.
Plants and soils host microbial groups that boost our immunity and regulate human hormone levels, which is good for our long-term health. Plants themselves release compounds into the air — like in aromatherapy — some of which have anti-cancer properties.
So, whether it’s a jade plant, Swiss cheese plant or weeping fig, consider introducing plants into your workplace; you never know, it could be a life saver!
- Dr Ross Cameron, Department of Landscape Architecture
- Jo Peel, Artist