How To Grow Fresh Air
by Dr. B.C.Wolverton
This book should be required reading for anyone who works for long periods in a room with computers. You must have noticed that, over the years, the light beige plastic of your computer changes into a nasty looking cream color. This is because the plastic is reacting chemically with the air and releasing Volatile Organic Chemicals into the air. VOCs are not good news for your computer, and they are not good news for your health either.
As Dr Wolverton (a researcher for NASA) explains VOCs can damage the gold plated connectors within your computer, thus leading to intermittent hardware problems which are almost impossible to explain, let alone find. That is why you can sometimes "fix" your computer by removing and reinserting boards. This action wipes the connectors clean of the VOCs which could have been the cause of the problem.
VOCs are bad news for humans too. "Illnesses caused by the synthetic contaminants of indoor air are most often the result of exposure to low concentrations of a mixture of compounds". The book lists the plants which are the easiest to grow indoors and which remove the most chemical pollutants. Plants appear static, but each creates a sort of cloud of natural chemical activity aound itself in the air and in the soil. It is this activity which removes indoor synthetic pollutants. "Plants influence air quality within a personal breathing zone", and you will need between two to four decent sized plants near your desk and computer.
Personally I have found that the easisest plant to grow indoors near my computer is Golden Pothos, a vine which produces green heart shaped leaves splashed with gold or cream colors. It is ranked in the book as quite good at removing chemical vapors, and gets top marks in the "ease of growth" category.
The Umbrella Plant, or Schefflera, is also quite easy to grow and and can become large quite quickly. Weeping Fig and Parlor Palm are also recommended.
If you can't get hold of any of these plants you can probably improve your personal air quality by having almost any living plant near you, and the more the merrier!
(By the way I am no green fingers gardener, so if I can keep two vines alive on my desk so can you!)
One more trick to making your working environment healthier.
If you work with the computer monitor close to a wall you can help your eyes by putting a mirror on the wall directly behind the monitor. This means that when you lift your eyes from the monitor (which you do often, right?) your eyes will be able to focus on something much further away than the wall or monitor.
This change in focus from near to far exercises the muscles which control the soft lens inside your eye.
This is part of the Ransen Software office. Note the mirror on the wall behind the monitor to the left of the photo, and note the three plants (2 Golden Potos and one Fern).