Plants process the waste product of our breathing, namely carbon dioxide, quite efficiently during the daylight hours and produce the much-needed oxygen we require to remain alert and productive during that time. One square-meter of plants in a vertical garden system can extract 2.3 kg of CO2 from the air and produce 1.7 kg of oxygen per year. So, in essence, we breathe so that they may photosynthesize and grow and they produce oxygen so that we may live and prosper. It is a truly symbiotic relationship that humans have with plants that lays the foundation of the great many benefits that plants and green walls can provide.
What are the benefits of less carbon dioxide and more oxygen? You’re going to be more energetic and alert! These are components that are help form the foundation of better overall well-being when plants are incorporated with your living and work environments.
Plants are effective air filters creating a cleaner, more invigorating environment. Our living spaces is becoming more air-tight especially with our air conditioners running in our hot tropical environments. Studies have shown that the average person spends 90% of their time indoors showing how important we should consider the quality of our indoor air.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are toxins that litter our indoor home and work environments. Common VOCs found are formaldehyde (plywood, particle board, plastics, paper products, synthetic fabrics), acetone (furniture polish wallpaper), benzene (paint, adhesives, plastics), ethanol & terpenes (cleaning products), and xylene (printing products, rubber, leather products).
VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause irritation of the lungs, as well as damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system. Long-term exposure may also cause damage to the liver, kidneys or central nervous system. Some VOCs are suspected of causing cancer and some have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
The long-term accumulation of VOCs can lead to Sick Building Sydrome. The term Sick Building Syndrome was coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986 to describe symptoms found in tenants of newly constructed home and office buildings. The WHO estimates that 10-30% of buildings have indoor air problems. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air pollution is among the top 5 threats to human health. The EPA found toxin levels to be anywhere between 10 and 1000 times more concentrated in climate controlled or sealed buildings than that experienced outdoors.
Thankfully, indoor vertical garden systems can provide a solution to dramatically reducing the concentrations of VOCs. A landmark NASA report in 1989 showed that the incorporation of indoor plants can significantly reduce the levels of VOCs. A large amount of VOC removal takes place in the plant root system and growing media, which houses populations of beneficial microbes that take up the VOCs and degrades it to non-toxic forms.
With a vertical garden system, a higher density of plants can be introduced to your indoor environment providing greater air filtration benefits.