Bunhill: Healthy toil among the pollution eating plants

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The Independent Online
PLANTS, apparently, are not just for decoration in offices, they can also do you good. Researchers looking for a cure for sick building syndrome have homed in on chemicals they think are guilty. One big suspect is formaldehyde, much used in wood glues and carpets, while traffic fumes obviously contain a whole host of nasties.

So now, there's a list of plants that extract particular chemicals. Chrysanthemums, it appears, are sovereign against formaldehyde, but not much cop against petrol or diesel fumes, where such exotica as the Areca Strum Palm and the Kimberley Queen Fern come into their own. And of course any vegetation helps to cut down noise and reduce energy consumption.

But a new development is the idea that greenery of any sort - flowers, plants, ferns, the lot - can have a measurable psychological impact and make you whistle while you work.

As a result, Rentokil, which is apparently the Mr Big of the office plant business world- wide, has funded a researcher to prove what we all suspect: that plants do cheer you up, and that removing them depresses you.

As Rentokil says: 'Sometimes you have to prove the obvious.' Next possible area for research: do 'holiday smells' such as suntan oils really lull travel agents' customers into buying more and more expensive holidays?

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