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ISBN: 978-81-7436-751-8

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Why You Can’t Live Without Them

Modern buildings are tightly sealed to reduce energy consumption.  This practice began in the early 1970’s as a result of the ‘energy crisis.’  Shortly thereafter, individuals living and working in these buildings began complaining of a variety of respiratory symptoms.  Investigations revealed that the air in most modern buildings is of poor quality and often dangerous.  Due to the prevalence of synthetic building materials and furnishings, the building industry has been unable to resolve this issue.  In fact, the EPA now ranks indoor air pollution among the top five threats to human health.

NASA, studying the possibility of long-term space habitation, discovered the ability of interior plants to improve indoor air quality.  NASA’s published works sparked great public interest.  As a result, ‘How to Grow Fresh Air’ was commissioned and had had 16 translations.  Years later, the public still thirsts for more practical information on this topic. Much more research and many applications in healthcare facilities, office buildings and in the hospitality industry have moved the technology forward but have not previously been chronicled.  These applications have encouraged the once skeptical ‘green building’ industry to evaluate its beneficial attributes.

There are also other important ways in which plants affect human health and well-being.  Just being in close proximity to plants can ease stress, relax and speed healing of the body.  Public gardens not only provide city dwellers with the opportunity to be in contact with nature but offer many other contributions that aid quality of life.  Vegetable gardens provide the dual benefits of relaxing exercise and yield healthy produce to sustain human health.

Plants have been a source of medicine throughout history.  To date, we have only begun to evaluate the medicinal properties of the many species of plants that inhabit our planet.  Many known herbs, spices and other plants can aid in the prevention or healing of diseases.  Whether ingested or used in the practice of aromatherapy, many plants can enhance our overall health.

Often overlooked, plants are a vital component in the preservation of a fresh water supply.  By filtering impurities from water or wastewater, they help to insure that pollutants do not reach our rivers, streams and lakes.  Plants and their root-associated microbes play a vital role in the various ecosystems that make our planet inhabitable.

These are only some of the many ways plants sustain us, prove beneficial to our health, give us visual pleasures and provide the very oxygen we breathe.  It is exciting to explore the many ways in which plants enhance our lives and to learn why you can’t live without them.


Bill Wolverton, Ph.D. and Kozabura Takenaka

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