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Make Work Healthy: Indoor Plants Improve Air Quality

By Edited Nov 29, 2015 2 3

The Bad Air in Your Office

Chemicals, Toxins and Recycled Air

For anybody that works in an office, the daily drudgery can be stifling.  In at 9, out at 5.  Rinse and repeat.  This never ending cycle is bad enough for your health.  And that doesn’t even consider the effects your physical office environment is having on you.  Sitting in a cube farm all day surrounded by machines emitting toxic fumes, industrial carpet shedding fibers and coworkers wearing clothes dry cleaned with harsh chemical isn’t exactly the mountain fresh air you’d prefer to breathing.

Most offices use heavily conditioned air regardless of the season.  Fresh air is non-existent because most offices, especially the suburban ones that most of us work in, don’t have windows that open.  That means all the particulate matter and toxins thrown off by the equipment surrounding your desk lingers until it is sucked back into a vent and recirculated throw the system back down to you.

Ever have those days with a roaring headache that wasn’t caused by coffee withdrawal?  It probably came from ingesting some chemicals care of that lovely industrial carpet under your feet or the harsh chemicals used to clean the place overnight.

Improving Your Office Air Quality is Easy

Three Indoor Plants Great at Cleaning the Air

The best way to improve indoor air quality is with plants.  Purchasing a few indoor plants and placing them in your office or cubicle will help remove the toxins floating around the office, helping to freshen up the air while making your office feel just a bit more livable while you’re in it.

Below are three common indoor plants that are particularly adept at absorbing airborne contaminants.  These are widely available and relatively cheap.

Adding even one to your space can work wonders.

Janet Craig

This is one of the most popular indoor plants because of its ability to grow in low light and handle the low humidity typical in buildings with heavily processed air.  These plants do well when the air temperature is around 75 degrees F (24 degrees C) and the water requirements are relatively low.  This plant is capable of removing formaldehyde from the air, among other toxins such as benzene.

Janet Craig

Janet Craig

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Also known as the snake plant, these are one of the best indoor plants for beginners.  They grow equally well sitting on the floor or on top of a desk and prefer bright light, like fluorescent ones in most offices.  During the winter these only need to be watered monthly helping keep maintenance simple and easy.  Otherwise keep the soil barely most, which means pouring out the water on your desk when you leave for the evening.  This plant absorbs alcohol, acetone, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Peace Lily

In a study conducted by NASA, the Peace Lily was rated among the top ten air cleaning indoor plants.  These plants can survive in low light environments and can even thrive when access is limited to completely artificial light like the kind found in most offices.  Moist soil is best for these plants and will result in amazing blooms.  Toxins absorbed include acetone, ammonia, benzene and toluene.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily(65124)


Oct 27, 2011 12:22pm
It is true that indoor plants can improve air quality, thanks for giving us the top 3 that cleanse the air.
Oct 27, 2011 12:53pm
No problem Lyn. Hopefully this will inspire people to pick up a plant or two and clean up the air around them.
Oct 27, 2011 1:24pm
I've seen all of these plants at offices I have worked at but never knew the names for them. I did, however, know that plants do in fact improve air quality. Nice article.
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