The Effect of Indoor Foliage Plants on Health and Discomfort Symptoms among Office Workers
Indoor plantings are widely used in building environments though little is known regarding the way office workers respond to indoor foliage plants. The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of foliage plants in the office on health and symptoms of discomfort among office personnel. A cross-over study with randomised period order was conducted; one period with plants in the office and one period without. A questionnaire consisting of 12 questions related to neuropsychological symptoms, mucous membrane symptoms and skin symptoms was distributed among the 51 healthy subjects who participated in the study. It was found that the score sum of symptoms was 23% lower during the period when subjects had plants in their offices compared to the control period. (Mean score sum was 7.1 during the period without plants vs. 5.6 during the period with plants.) Complaints regarding cough and fatigue were reduced by 37 and 30%, respectively, if the offices contained plants. The self-reported level of dry/hoarse throat and dry/itching facial skin each decreased approximately 23% when plants were present. Overall, a significant reduction was obtained in neuropsychological symptoms and mucous membrane symptoms, while skin symptoms seemed to be unaffected by the presence of plants. The results from this study suggest that an improvement in health and a reduction in symptoms of discomfort may be obtained after introduction of foliage plants into the office environment.