Overseas studies have shown that indoor plants can improve IAQ in a number of ways:
by reducing nitrogen and sulfur oxides & dust, stabilising humidity, and reducing noise levels. Staff wellbeing and productivity are also directly improved where indoor plants have been installed.
Following on from the pioneering work of Wolverton et al. in the USA, our UTS laboratory test- chamber studies have shown that potted-plants can reliably eliminate repeated, very large, daily air- borne doses of VOCs. Once ‘induced’ (stimulated) by exposure to a single dose, high removal rates are attained, and maintained in light or dark (24/7), & rise further to deal with increased VOC concentrations. We have so far tested in detail 10 species*.
We demonstrated experimentally that normal microorganisms of the potting-mix are the main VOC removal agents. The role of the plants here is in feeding their root-zone microbial communities. So, the potted-plant system works as a ‘symbiotic microcosm’. Take care of the plants, and the plants will take care of their microbes! (Their normal job is breaking down soil humus and releasing nutrients, which are then available to plant roots. Many soil microorganisms can degrade liquid-phase petroleum hydrocarbons, and so are used in bioremediation of oil spills.)