Office Making You Sick? Air-purifying Plants Can Help.

Endless sea of cubicles

If you love Tom Hanks, as every good American does, then you might have seen the 1990 classic, Joe Versus The Volcano. In it, office worker Joe is a hypochondriac and unhappy in his work environment. Even the addition of a tiki-inspired lamp can’t help him shake him off the ‘suck, suck, sucking’ sensation that he feels from his office environment, an airtight box lit with fluorescent lights. While Joe may be fictitious, his feeling of malaise is very real. Building related illnesses were first researched in the 1980s and we are still learning about them today. Now we know that air-purifying plants could have helped Joe more than that tiki lamp. 

Sick Building Syndrome is controversial amongst medical professionals. Symptoms can include a host of common ailments such as asthma, depression, anxiety, headaches, dizziness, dry cough, or fatigue amongst other things. Symptoms are commonly linked to an environment that has poor ventilation and environmental pollutants such as formaldehyde, radon gas, asbestos, lead or black mold. 

The Environmental Protection Agency believes that building-related illnesses (BRI) are primarily a problem of air quality. In fact, the World Health Organization states that up to 30% of office buildings have air quality problems. To prevent illnesses caused by air quality, the EPA urges buildings to install HEPA air filters that eliminate or reduce airborne particles such as mold, dust, or environmental pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. 

While all of this seems very technical, plant lovers know that there’s more than one way to purify the air. As interior plantscaping experts, we’ve long advocated for introducing air-purifying plants whenever possible. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but many common house plants can remove significant amounts of toxins from the air. Here are just a few of our (and according to their 1989 Clean Air Study, NASA’s) favorites. 


  1. Golden Pothos-Golden Pothos offers a compact plant with a lot of visual punch. With variegated leaves splashed with yellow, these make a striking addition to a desk or reception area. While bright light is needed to keep the yellow hue vibrant, it will still thrive in lower light. 
  2. Philodendron-for areas where a trailing plant would thrive, try this prolific vining specimen. Philodendrons are beautiful in hanging baskets and enjoy bright but diffused sunlight. 
  3. Bamboo Palm-Not only do palms clean the air, they bring a lush, tropical feeling to any room. They enjoy bright, filtered light. 
  4. English Ivy-there are many varieties of the ivy plant, all of which have nearly floral looking foliage. Ivy can thrive even in low light and in a variety of temperatures. 
  5. Janet Craig– This member of the Dracaena family is often referred to as the corn plant because of its leafy foliage. Plants can range from one foot to twenty feet tall, so they can work in nearly any environment. Janet Craig needs medium to bright light to thrive. 


If you want to breathe new life into your home or office, please let us know! We love to chat about how to make your space healthy and welcoming. Drop us a line!



1751 McGaw Ave
Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: (949) 486-1495
Toll-Free: 800-PLANT13
Fax: (949) 486-1499



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