Headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness and permanent fatigue after a few hours in the office - often volatile chemicals in the air are to blame. At the top of the list of pollutants is formaldehyde, an all-round chemical that is still in many pieces of furniture. But indoor plants can filter poisons in furniture, carpets and computers. The dense-leaved birch fig, the sturdy dragon tree or the heart-shaped philodendron not only look good and bring some nature into sober offices, they also perform well as poison filters.
Orchid, ivy and Co. filter pollutants
Scientists have been studying the effects of indoor plants for about twenty years. The first real breakthrough came from a study by the American space agency NASA - the knowledge that the air gets clean through plants. The research results of the John C. Stennis Space Center have shown: especially orchid, gerbera, ivy and Arecapalme or Betelpalme filter pollutants from the air. For smokers, especially birch fig and green lily are recommended.
Good working atmosphere
Special enzymes convert absorbed toxins into harmless substances that are used by the plant. Although green plants can not completely clean the air in heavily polluted rooms, they can significantly improve the "working climate" in sufficient numbers and sizes - so a small plant in the corner is not enough. In addition, many plants are optimal humidifiers. They ensure that the residents feel well even in dry heat.
Sick Building Syndrome
According to a study by the Federal Environmental Agency, we spend about 20 hours a day in closed rooms. Volatile solvents, as they are almost always in paints and varnishes, often trigger symptoms such as headaches and circulatory problems. Known examples are formaldehyde in carpets, chipboard or insulating foams, but also in tobacco smoke, wood preservatives or asbestos-containing insulating materials and mold.
A direct correlation between disease symptoms and pollutant uptake is usually not immediately apparent. Environmental physicians have a term for it: "sick building syndrome", "disease-building syndrome". Many complaints are nonspecific. This complicates the diagnosis, which usually puts an environmental doctor. A "sick building syndrome" indicates when the affected person experiences symptoms in certain areas, which fade away as soon as he is out in the open air.
The all-round poison formaldehyde is harmless
Formaldehyde as a binder is mainly used in wood materials, ie chipboard, plywood and blockboard. Chipboard is used for interior design and furniture - a basic feature in offices. The chemical emits as volatile gas from the various materials (wood-based materials, floor coverings, textiles, etc.). Scientists at the Research Center for Environment and Health (GSF) near Munich have discovered that leaves contain a protein that converts formaldehyde into non-toxic natural products such as amino acids and sugars. The detoxification reaction is similar to the metabolic processes in the animal and human liver.
In analogy to the "green lung", the GSF scientists therefore call the plant's detoxification system "green liver". Not all indoor plants, however, detoxify equally well. Particularly effective are the birch fig, the radar artery and the ivy people. Complete removal of formaldehyde from indoor air, however, can not be achieved by the living air filters under optimal growth conditions.
Plants are good for the brain
For the human brain, plants also work wonders: Students learn better when plants are in the classroom. That's what researchers from Reading University in London found out. In crowded classrooms, carbon dioxides affect concentration. Indoor plants such as yucca palm trees convert the gas into oxygen. Plants in the office can also boost work performance. Many employees experience houseplants not only as a concentration-enhancing, but also stress-reducing.