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Potted Plants to Fight Indoor Allergies

Bring a Plant to Work Day

If you find yourself sneezing excessively at work, it is not that you're allergic to your job. More than likely you're experiencing chemical sensitivities to some common office items like adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, copy machine chemicals, and cleaning agents. Ordinary things found in offices often emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like formaldehyde, found in pressed wood, and benzene, found in glues, paints, furniture wax. These VOCs can trigger allergy-like symptoms like sneezing and plain old congestion.

One way to combat this problem is to use an air purifier. Another is to bring a plant to work. According to research done by NASA, plants can help purify the air and absorb some of those volatile toxins. To see the plants that made it into its list of top 10 purifiers,


  1. Areca Palm
  2. Reed Palm
  3. Dwarf Date Palm
  4. Boston Fern
  5. Janet Craig Dracaena
  6. English Ivy
  7. Australian Sword Fern
  8. Peace Lily
  9. Rubber Plant
  10. Weeping Fig

Do you have a plant on your desk at work?


ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
huh - i never thought about this one. thanks for the though t - i just have to figure out where i can put a plant since we don't have the most space in our office.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
Thanks for this list! I've been trying to find some office-appropriate plants. The only thing I have right now is lucky bamboo.
lilv lilv 8 years
i can't say i'm a green thumb and would love a plant at work but i dont sit at a window. thoughts on what type i should get?
Spectra Spectra 8 years
wackdoodle--you make an excellent point. I think that's part of why we aren't allowed to have plants in the lab. It's part of a hospital and the Joint Commission comes through every so often and does inspections to see if we're compliant as far as safety, codes, etc. I think plants would possibly violate some codes because they produce allergens and may harbor spores that could compromise the air quality.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Umm...okay and when your cubicle neighbor starts sneezing and wheezing like crazy please be kind and take your plant back home so they can breathe. When I was office-based the women and the man on either side of my cubicle bought plants and flowers into their cubicles. Sure they were lovely until the set their flora on the partition between cubes so they could get more light and people could see the lovely flowers and I found that I couldn't breathe when those plants were out in the open. I would have 7+ hours of sneezing, coughing, running nose, wheezing and itchy eyes. Finally, I has to ask my cubicle neighbors to not put their plants on the partition of the cubes because I was allergic to them, they strangely refused. They actually said that I should learn to live with my allergies being worsened by their lovely plants. No, HR and the CEO disagreed. Turns out company policy said "No outside plants or flowers could be bought into the office." Why? Because our CEO was like me highly allergic to most plants. We also had a no perfume and no cologne rule. People got sent home to shower and change clothes on their dime if their perfume or cologne was at all noticeable(the rule was 12" of scent was acceptable but if someone could smell your perfume when they were more than 12" away from you you had to go shower and change clothes w/o pay). Again, the CEO was very allergic as were many other employees. Our offices had signs that we were a scent-free, allergy-free zone. We had plants in our office, the CEO paid to have a company bring in and maintain plants that didn't trigger allergy attacks. I may love plants and flowers but my body doesn't. So I'd advise being very careful taking plants into your work space. I'd ask your HR department first.
amvbob amvbob 8 years
I'm guessing a rubber plant is a real plant and not just a fake bush made of rubber (: What about a chia pet? I could see that on my desk...
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I miss my old work plant. :(
mally313 mally313 8 years
I work in a very green building (platinum LEED certified). Our building has several indoor gardens with trees and other pretty plants. We are not allowed to bring in personal plants because outside plants could bring in bacteria that could harm the existing gardens.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
It's not allowed in the lab, so no plants for me. I do have a nice chrysanthemum plant in my house though
runningesq runningesq 8 years
I have some lucky bamboo growing on my desk :)
syako syako 8 years
No I don't. But I've been considering it for a while and this might just make me do it. Thanks. :)
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