The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
States that levels of indoor air pollutants can be 2-5 times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. So what do you do if you think your home or business may be causing Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?.
If there is a possibility that SBS is present, the first step would be to bring in a building specialist to conduct a professional investigation.
Ensure Proper Building Systems
The building may not be operating in accordance with its original design. The HVAC or ventilation system may not be performing as it was intended. Adequate ventilation and air exchange rates are significant factors in the health and comfort of occupants. If the symptoms are seasonal, the heating or cooling system may be the culprit. Combustion products like carbon monoxide may be creating indoor air pollution. Understanding that systems work interdependently, even a minor adjustment or alteration affecting one system could conversely affect the efficiency of other systems. The general maintenance or occupant activities may also be the cause of indoor air problems.
Air Pollutants and Contaminants
An evaluation of irritants, pollutants, and even the humidity level may determine if, alone or in combination, these factors are contributing to or exacerbating the indoor air quality problems. A professional will likely discover that indoor chemical contaminants may be emitting Philodendron, Spider plant, and the Golden Pothos such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Additionally, biological contaminants such as molds or pollen may also be collecting in ducts, ceiling tiles, or carpeting.
Benefits of Plants
Once the source of indoor air pollution has been identified and contained, the addition of indoor plants to the office or home could prove beneficial in the prevention of sick building syndrome. Through a 2-year study, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) concluded that these living air purifiers could aid not only in absorbing harmful pollutants but also in cleaning indoor air. Living plants were found to be an efficient means of indoor air purification and removal of VOCs in test chambers. Through their leaves, roots, and soil bacteria, the plants showed a natural way to improve the indoor air quality.
The study reported the Philodendron, Spider plant, and the Golden Pothos as the most effective formaldehyde removers. The Gerbera Daisy and Chrysanthemum were said to be the highest benzene removers. Combined with research suggesting that plants play a psychological role in welfare and illness recovery, adding a little greenery to the home or office could prove more than just pleasing to the eye.