Indoor Plants that Boost Productivity in the Workplace


A CEO in the world’s smoggiest city, New Delhi, India, is using indoor plants to help alleviate health problems such as headaches, lung problems, hypertension and eye irritation. Kamal Meattle , the CEO of Paharpur Business Centre (PBC), installed 400 plants on the rooftop and 800 other plants throughout the 6 floors of the building in order to remove soot and other chemicals from the air. Meattle says his staff have fewer sick days and greater productivity. While it is difficult to find data from studies about how plants at PBC remove chemicals from the air and their efficacy, the PBC website has some interesting stats about the effect plants have on health and the environment in it’s workplace.

We know that plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, but they can also help remove toxins from the air. That may explain the improved productivity and lower absenteeism from sickness at PBC.


In 1989, NASA conducted the ‘Clean Air Study’.The goal was to find a way to help purify the air in it’s space stations. So it teamed up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America and to find the best plants to help remove the most volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including:

Trichloroethylene: found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure can include excitement, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting, followed by drowsiness and coma.

Formaldehyde: found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, plywood paneling, and synthetic fabrics. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure can include irritation to nose, mouth, and throat, and in severe cases, swelling of the larynx and lungs.

Benzene: used to make plastics, resins, lubricants, detergents, and drugs. It’s also found in tobacco smoke, glue, and furniture wax. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure can include irritation to eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, increase in heart rate, headaches, confusion, and, in some cases, can result in unconsciousness.

Xylene: found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure can include irritation to mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, confusion, heart problems, liver and kidney damage, and coma.

Ammonia: found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilisers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure can include eye irritation, coughing, and sore throat.

10 of the plants recommended by NASA were:

  1. Devil’s Ivy
  2. Boston Fern
  3. Chinese Evergreen
  4. Weeping Fig
  5. Bamboo Palm
  6. Spider Plant
  7. Peace Lily
  8. Snake Plant
  9. Flamingo Lily
  10. Chrysanthemum

There may even be more workplace benefits of indoor plants. There’s been plenty of research into  psychological and mental benefits of indoor plants. For example, lucky bamboo may help improve concentration. Crotons may help with creativity.

For more suggestions about plants that improve indoor air quality and how to care for them go to:

And check out the infographic below from

Indoor plants

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The Mind Centre was a counselling and meditation centre for several years before morphing into an information centre for people seeking to know more about mind and body health.

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