Sunday, March 6, 2011

Benefits of Green Roofs - Fighting Cancer and Other Diseases

Green roofs and living walls can help clean the air and allow us to breath easier.

Many geographic locations acros the globe have air contaminated with Volatile Organice Compounds also known as VOCs.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals created by industrial pollution and automobile engines among other processes.  VOCs are the primary cause of Urban Smog.  

They are also responsible for the formation of cancers, respiratory problems and other serious health issues.

According to the US EPA, the Health Effects of VOCs include:

Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.

For more health information on VOCs from the EPA click here. 

According to a new study - one confirming what we already know - plants -  - clean these harmful VOCs out of the air.   Read about the study in a National Science Foundation Article here.

This study makes it clear that it is especially important to have as many plants inside your building or home as the levels of VOCs inside a structure can be up to ten times the ambient levels outside.

Plants act as filters for air and rainfall, actually removing and utilizing harmful nitrogen.  They also remove carbon from the atmosphere by using CO2 to produce much needed energy compounds and then plants pump oxygen back into the atmosphere.

As we are bombarded with pollutants each day, in our water and in the air - installing interior living walls, exterior vertical green - green roofs and living walls, Urban Permaculture - City Gardens, wildflowers and trees - can pay off with significant benefits.

Ultimately, we may live longer.  Ultimately, we may beat the odds with cancer or respiratory diseases.

Restoring Volumetric Green to the Urban Core is critical.  Today, go out and plant a seed or a grown plant.  Bring another inside.  Hang plants from your patio walls and your kitchen window.  Keep plants in your home.  Install a green roof.

Green roofs and living walls - cleaning stormwater, creating habitat, providing a sense of place and beauty and - importantly - fighting disease by removing pollutants!

Surround yourself with plants today.  You may breath better and live longer. 

Remember, the benefits of adding volumetric green to the Urban Core include;

  • Cleaning Rainfall runoff and stormwater
  • Providing wildlife habitat
  • Supporting biodiversity
  • Creating habitat for endangered plants
  • Integrated pest management - supporting pest consuming invertebrates and amphibians
  • Noise insulation
  • Reducing Heat Island effect
  • Creating a Sense of Place and Landscape Beauty
  • and more

Wan to learn more?  Email us here.  We will be glad to help you with your next living wall or green roof design project!

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