Going Green: Plant-Filled Workplace a Healthy Move

Native Americans have appreciated the healing power of plants for many years.
Though smudging, which is the burning of certain plants during Native American healing ceremonies, is most likely against your office fire code, you can easily reap the benefits of plants by adding a few to your office area.

Much to our advantage, plants in the workplace do a great deal more than
just look pretty. In fact, a recent study conducted by Tove Fjeld, a professor at the Agricultural University in Oslo, Norway, found that office greenery has been proven to reduce fatigue by 20 percent, headaches by 45 percent and coughs by 40 percent.

"Many of our modern buildings are constructed with an emphasis on operational efficiency," explains MJ Gilhooley, spokesperson for Plants At Work, a national information campaign to promote usage of plants in the office.

"Unfortunately, this focus on efficiency can lead to a disregard for the health and overall
comfort of a building's occupants. Now, they are slowly realizing that
plants actually act as the lungs of a workplace while simultaneously contributing
to the efficiency, moral and creative problem solving of today's green building designs."

Experts advise keeping at least one plant on your desk within six to eight
cubic feet of your workspace. This allows you to take full advantage of the
plants' natural toxin-reducing capabilities.
What plants are good for the office?

Office life can be hard on certain plants. Limited sun exposure and lack of
water are common reasons plants don't make it. Gilhooley suggests keeping
these leafy colleagues in your workspace:

Corn plant: This striking tree can easily reach six feet in height and
doesn't need much water or light.

Palms: The dwarf date palm removes 1385 micrograms of formaldehyde per hour
- a toxin commonly found in office foam insulation, particleboard in desks and
bookshelves, and carpeting.

Janet Craig: This popular shrub thrives in even minimal natural light and is known for its air purification abilities (it removes 1328 micrograms of formaldehyde per hour).

Peace lily: This leafy plant eats 939 micrograms of formaldehyde an hour.

This advertising section did not involve the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times.

The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.