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July 1, 2009

Indoor Plants and Indoor Air Quality

-by Alaina Caudillo

At USEE's most recent Green Bag Lecture, Indoor Plants and Indoor Air Quality, Brandie Balken from Cactus and Tropicals had some excellent points about why indoor plants are beneficial both emotionally and physically for our indoor environments.

First of all, people gravitate toward natural environments. We like to shop in stores with plants, people drive slower on streets lined with trees, and they have many aesthetic qualities such as blossoms that make us feel happy.

Brandie pointed out that plants aren't just pretty to look at as they have amazing benefits for us during our time spent in indoor environments like our homes and offices. Tropical plants in particular thrive in the same humidity level range that people like to thrive in (30%-60% humidity). By including plants in your decor, they will clean the carbon dioxide emitted from our exhaled breaths out of your indoor air, replacing it with fresh oxygen to nourish us.

Plants naturally add clean water vapor through evapo-transpiration to our indoor air, allowing the optimal humidity levels so that we can breathe easier. House plants also break down toxic chemicals found in the indoor environment like benzene and formaldehyde, often used in the production of common household goods like furniture.

Some people feel that they are not "plant people". For those of you with this concern, take solace in knowing that there are plants that are right for every kind of person, from easy to needy plants, depending on the care and light you can provide them.

To improve the quality of air indoors, you need about 2 plants for every 100 square feet, so stop by your local nursery today to find your new friends. They will help clean the air while you are away in exchange for a little water and sunlight.

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