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Aircare, Business, Wellbeing

Plants can be an effective first solution for improving indoor air and comfort by absorbing pollutants that are harmful to our health, reducing CO2 levels and regulating humidity levels in a natural way.

The importance of relative humidity

The issue of indoor air quality has become a key concern for every company. The ongoing pandemic has increased the level of attention regarding the proper use of air in confined spaces. Medical science has repeatedly pointed out that this virus is largely spread by airborne transmission.

But several studies are focusing in particular on relative humidity.

The wealthiest bodies (e.g. World Health Organisation) and building certification standards (e.g. Well) recommend that indoor humidity be kept between 40% and 60%. Why?

Low humidity (e.g. 20%) increases the dispersion of particles in the air. This condition therefore increases the chances of contagion for diseases such as colds and viruses.

Harvard scientists have discovered a correlation between humidity and infection levels in hospitals, namely that our immune system works more efficiently at moderately high humidity.

The study states that in the range of 40% to 60%, the spread of airborne viruses and other pathogens is dramatically reduced.  Droplets fall to the ground more quickly in higher humidity conditions, so they are less likely to ‘travel’ freely within our environments.

It is, however, essential to constantly monitor this parameter because even excessive humidity can cause very serious problems for our health, for example increasing the likelihood of respiratory diseases or joint diseases such as arthritis or arthrosis.

…and other pollutants

Today it is necessary to measure a number of pollutants that can develop in indoor environments.

In addition to particulate matter, which can also penetrate from outside, it is also necessary to consider VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, produced by different classes of chemicals and materials that we come into contact with on a regular basis. We must constantly check the levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which can significantly affect productivity and of course the health of the occupants.

In this article we discuss indoor air quality and indoor comfort.

 

The advantage of using plants indoors

There are several ways in which technology can be used to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). Certainly, acting on ventilation, treatment, filtration or air purification systems is essential. But these are all solutions with a high structural and economic impact, so why not start using plants to improve indoor air quality?

There are a number of plants that can help regulate humidity and reduce indoor pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), here are some examples:

  • Dracena
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
  • Philodendrum
  • Bromelia
  • Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

As with any activity that is carried out, reckless implementation can bring more harm than good. Even when it comes to plants, there is one important aspects to consider:

Some occupants may be allergic to specific plants. Before making widespread use of indoor plants, carry out a survey of allergies experienced by various occupants.

This is certainly a first step, which obviously cannot replace an air treatment system in terms of effectiveness, but it could certainly produce some initial benefits such as

  • Increased productivity and general well-being of people
  • Energy-saving: plants can help reduce ventilation loads and the loss of fan power associated with forced-air filtration. Some studies estimate that it is possible to reduce HVAC consumption by about 5-7% with the use of indoor plants.
  • Humidity: Indoor plants can increase the relative humidity by up to 5%. This can help conserve water in conditions where active humidification is required.
  • Aesthetically decorating your workspaces

 

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