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Richard Parsons Steps Down From CBS Board, Role As Interim Chairman, Citing Health Reasons

Richard Parsons has resigned from the CBS Corp board of directors, including his role as interim chairman which he undertook just a month ago following the departure of Les Moonves. Parsons cited health reasons related to his fight with multiple myeloma as the reason for his sudden exit.

The CBS board met this evening and tapped Strauss Zelnick to take over as interim chairman, a decision the board said was unanimous.

“The reason for my departure relates to the state of my health,” Parsons said in the release Sunday night announcing the decision. “As some of you know, when I agreed to join the board and serve as the interim chair, I was already dealing with a serious health challenge – multiple myeloma – but I felt that the situation was manageable. Unfortunately, unanticipated complications have created additional new challenges, and my doctors have advised that cutting back on my current commitments is essential to my overall recovery.

“I trust CBS’ distinguished Board, now led by Strauss Zelnick, as well as CBS’ strong management team led by Joe Ianniello, will continue to successfully guide this Company into its very bright future.”

Zelnick assumes the role immediately. The industry veteran earned a reputation as a media wunderkind, having been named president of 20th Century Fox film studio at the age of 32, and went on to run BMG Entertainment in the 1990s. He is currently CEO and chairman of Take-Two Interactive Software, best known for its provocative Grand Theft Auto game franchise. One of his top priorities will be the board’s search for the next chief executive to permanently replace Moonves, who resigned on Sept. 9 under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

Ianniello has been serving as interim CEO, swiftly fortifying CBS’ executive ranks  as he seeks to prove himself to the board. His recent moves have included promoting Showtime’s David Nevins to a broad chief creative officer role. He also made Showtime’s Christina Spade CFO, Laurie Rosenfield chief people officer, and tapped Dana McClintock to become communications boss after the retirement of veteran Gil Schwartz.

Wall Street could get some insight into CBS’ next steps Nov. 1, when it reports third-quarter earnings and conducts a conference call with analysts. After that its twice-delayed annual shareholder meeting is set for Dec. 11.

Parsons, the Time Warner CEO from 2002-2007, was unanimously appointed to interim CBS chairman in September following Moonves’ resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct from several women. Parsons had been an advisor to controlling shareholder Shari Redstone as she and her National Amusements holding company navigated a bruising battle with Moonves over control of CBS Corp. The two had developed a close working relationship.

The Brooklyn-bred lawyer Parsons, who also had career stints working for the Rockefeller family and turning around New York’s Dime Savings Bank, is known for his affability and diplomatic skills. After Time Warner he was chairman of Citigroup in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and was interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers after controversy forced the team’s longtime owner Donald Sterling to resign and sell the team.

Despite Parsons’ reputation as a diplomat, board turmoil continued. Lead independent director Bruce Gordon stepped down on Sept. 25, surprising many observers who saw him as playing an important role in CBS’ next chapter. The Wall Street Journal reported that he quit over the decision to name an interim chairman, a move which he felt would hamper the media company’s ability to attract top CEO candidate who might also want the chairman’s title.

Gordon could not be reached by Deadline to confirm this account.

One person with knowledge of the matter said Parsons health condition, which was well-known to friends, has worsened in recent weeks, forcing him to step down.

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Growing evidence that noise is bad for your health

The World Health Organisation recently published its latest noise pollution guidelines for Europe. The guidelines recommend outdoor noise levels that should not be exceeded for aircraft, road and rail noise and two new sources: wind turbine and leisure noise.

The aim of the guidelines is to recommend environmental noise exposure levels to protect human health from noise. The basis of the guidelines, which I helped to produce, is a series of eight systematic reviews of the published scientific evidence. A further review considered the effectiveness of interventions to reduce noise and improve health.

The reviews covered important health outcomes, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, annoyance, sleep disturbance and children’s learning and hearing impairment. Other topics reviewed include mental health and quality of life, metabolic syndrome (including diabetes) and adverse birth outcomes. These were considered less important only because the research evidence for health effects – such as problems with birth – is much weaker, or the research is new and incomplete, such as associations with metabolic syndrome.

These recent studies find that exposure to road traffic noise is associated with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and diabetes. Both these health outcomes could be a consequence of exposure to prolonged stress – as a result, for example, of chronic noise. They add to the understanding of how environmental noise affects the body. There is now strong evidence that road traffic noise exposure is associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

Surround sound

New sources of noise covered by the guidelines include wind turbine noise and leisure noise (for example from nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events, concerts or live music venues and listening to loud music through headphones).

The health evidence for wind turbine noise is scanty. There is evidence that they cause annoyance, but the findings on sleep disturbance are inconclusive. There is no convincing evidence of more serious health effects, but the quality of most of the studies is poor. Assessment of the effects for wind turbines is complex because many other factors need to be considered, such as their visual appearance and low-frequency noise.

The limits for leisure noise are based on cumulative exposure from all sources, across the year. A big unknown is whether prolonged listening to loud music through headphones can lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss, so we need long-term studies to explore this further.

We don’t know the potential cumulative damage of listening to music through headphones.

Although the new Environmental Noise Guidelines were prepared for Europe, they are suitable for worldwide use. They provide useful information for policymakers in local and central governments about the potential health effects from noise in their populations and should shape interventions to reduce noise and improve health.

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‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

Health and human services officials said they were only abiding by court orders, referring to the rulings of Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Tex., a George W. Bush appointee who has held that “Congress did not understand ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity.’”

A 2016 ruling by Judge O’Connor concerned a rule that was adopted to carry out a civil rights statute embedded in the Affordable Care Act. The provision prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance.

But in recent discussions with the administration, civil rights groups, including Lambda Legal, have pointed to other court cases. In a legal memo presented to the administration, a coalition of civil rights groups wrote, “The overwhelming majority of courts to address the question since the most relevant Supreme Court precedent in 1998 have held that antitransgender bias constitutes sex discrimination under federal laws like Title IX.”

Indeed, the health and human services proposal was prompted, in part, by pro-transgender court decisions in the last year that upheld the Obama administration’s position.

In their memo, health and human services officials wrote that “courts and plaintiffs are racing to get decisions” ahead of any rule-making, because of the lack of a stand-alone definition.

“Courts and the previous administration took advantage of this circumstance to include gender identity and sexual orientation in a multitude of agencies, and under a multitude of laws,” the memo states. Doing so “led to confusion and negative policy consequences in health care, education and other federal contexts.”

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Early Retirees, Manage Income to Snare a Health Insurance Subsidy

If you retire early and have to buy health insurance on your own, those premiums are likely to be some of your largest expenses until you turn 65 and can enroll in Medicare. Early retirees have it particularly hard because health insurance for people in their fifties and early sixties can cost up to three times as much as coverage for younger people.

SEE ALSO: Best States to Retire 2018: All 50 States Ranked for Retirement

But you could qualify for a subsidy to help pay a big chunk of the premiums if you buy insurance through your state health insurance marketplace. And you may be able to make some financial moves to qualify for more assistance—especially if you have retired from full-time work and have more flexibility with how you receive your income.

To qualify for a subsidy, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than 400% of the federal poverty level. For 2018 coverage, that’s $48,240 for singles or $64,960 for a couple. The lower your income, the higher your subsidy (although your income must be at least 100% of the federal poverty level, which is $12,060 for singles or $16,240 for couples).

Qualifying for a subsidy can make a big difference in your premiums. For example, a 60-year-old single man in Pittsburgh who earns $40,000 could qualify for a subsidy of $439 per month in 2018. That would lower the monthly cost of some silver-level plans from $730 per month to about $300. If he bought a bronze plan, which usually has higher deductibles and more cost-sharing than silver plans, his monthly premiums could drop from more than $500 to about $100 or less.


The subsidy is a premium tax credit, and it is based on your income for the current year, which you estimate when you buy a policy. But you still have time to make some moves to help reduce your income before the end of the year, which could lower your premiums now or result in a refund when you file your 2018 income tax return. You can only qualify for a subsidy if you bought coverage through your state insurance marketplace (either through or your state’s exchange, depending on the state).

Steps to Trim Income

The modified adjusted gross income figure that determines eligibility for the subsidy is based on your adjusted gross income on Form 1040 plus tax-exempt foreign income, tax-exempt Social Security benefits and tax-exempt interest.

You can reduce your income by making tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA, if you or your spouse has some earned income; to a health savings account, if you have a high-deductible health insurance policy; or to a simplified employee pension or solo 401(k), if you have any self-employment income. “Essentially, any tax-deferred vehicle will help lower your MAGI,” says Ron Mastrogiovanni, chief executive officer of HealthView Services, which specializes in financial planning for health care expenses.

You can also control how much money you withdraw from tax-deferred IRAs or 401(k)s in the last few months of the year, perhaps delaying some withdrawals until 2019. Or you could instead take money from a tax-free Roth account, which wouldn’t be included in the calculations. Selling losing stocks or minimizing capital gains can help, too. And if you have any self-employment income, your business expenses can reduce your income. Also be careful about moves that can make your taxable income higher than usual, such as converting a traditional IRA to a Roth.


SEE ALSO: 7 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover

It’s important to keep the subsidy in mind when choosing a policy for 2019 health coverage. Open enrollment for marketplace coverage runs from November 1 to December 15 (with a longer deadline in some states). Although Affordable Care Act–compliant plans are also available outside the state exchanges, it’s a good idea to buy coverage from the marketplace if there’s a chance you could qualify for a subsidy. For 2019 policies, you will get a subsidy if your income is less than $48,560 for singles or $65,840 for couples.

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Older HIV patients struggle with loneliness and depression — and lack of services

Older people with HIV are frequently lonely and depressed, many of them face serious housing and financial hardships, and they have high rates of physical ailments — such as chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes and fatigue — that can diminish their quality of life.

All of that’s been known for several years. But services to meet their needs still fall short, say people with HIV and the groups that support them, and simply quantifying their mental and physical health problems has been a challenge.

People age 50 and older make up nearly two-thirds of all those with HIV in San Francisco. Most of these older adults have been infected with the virus for 20 or more years. They are the long-term survivors: men and women who were infected before drugs to treat HIV were widely available, when the illness was considered a death sentence.

Though those drugs were life-saving, for many survivors, realizing they were going to live opened a new chapter of emotional and physical challenges.

A new survey, released Saturday, is among the first to describe the breadth of health problems in San Francisco’s older adults with HIV and how they are, or are not, being addressed. The survey questioned 197 people, all age 50 or older and HIV-positive. Among the findings:

•More than 60 percent suffer depression and about the same have serious anxiety. Seventy percent have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

•Nearly half have neuropathy, a form of nerve pain likely caused by HIV or the early drugs to treat it. Fifty-six percent have severe fatigue. On average, survey respondents reported at least six mental or physical ailments in addition to HIV infection.

•A quarter regularly don’t have enough money to cover their expenses. Seven percent don’t have a permanent home. Nearly half say they sometimes don’t have enough to eat.

•More than 1 in 4 said they have no one to turn to if they become sick or disabled and need help with simple chores, like housework or shopping.

•Fifteen percent say they have no one to count on for emotional support.

“When you have a population that didn’t plan to live, it’s not surprising that they would find aging challenging,” said Vince Crisostomo, who runs the 50-Plus Network, a group for older men with HIV at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “There are some days when people see what a blessing it is to be alive. And then there are the harder days.”

Or in the words of one survey respondent: “There are things worse than AIDS, like loneliness.”

Roughly 6,000 long-term survivors live in San Francisco. Along with older people who were more recently infected, they make up the bulk of the modern San Francisco HIV epidemic, but the virus is still perceived by many — from doctors and nonprofit leaders to public health and infectious disease experts — as afflicting primarily the young. Programs that draw the most resources and attention tend to focus on prevention and early treatment.

Meanwhile, though the needs of older people with HIV are becoming much more widely known, services for them have not kept up, according to people with HIV and many of the service providers themselves.

Specialty programs do exist. Crisostomo’s group has more than doubled in size over the past five years, and he now sees 60 to 70 people at his Wednesday night meetings. Early last year, Ward 86 — the HIV department at San Francisco General Hospital — opened a geriatric clinic for older patients.

Nonprofit groups that were founded during the worst years of the epidemic have introduced services from “buddy systems” for older adults to special nutrition programs for people with conditions such as heart disease associated with aging.

Certainly some older adults with HIV say they are impressed by the services available to them. “It’s just heaven for me here,” said Vic McManus, 56, who moved to San Francisco from Long Beach a year and a half ago and soon after joined Crisostomo’s 50-Plus group.

“There’s just so many more resources here,” McManus said. “I feel like I can flourish here, whereas where I came from, I couldn’t even find a support group.”

Still, even those working with agencies meant to help people with HIV worry that they’re not doing enough to help older clients. The San Francisco Model of care — a grassroots network that built up around AIDS in the 1980s and ’90s — hasn’t kept up with the population it was founded for, said Mark Ryle, chief executive of Project Open Hand, which has been providing free meals and groceries to people with HIV for more than three decades.

More than 90 percent of the group’s HIV clients are older than 50 now, Ryle said. Though his agency has taken steps to meet their needs and he knows that other nonprofits have done the same, he also feels as though the long-term survivor community has been let down.

“These long-term survivors, these folks who made it through the gantlet, we thought we had them on autopilot. We thought they had all these services, they’re OK,” Ryle said. “I think to some extent we took the eye off the ball.”

The new survey, called Research on Older Adults with HIV 2.0 — it was a follow-up to a similar survey done in New York in 2005 — was conducted this year by the Acria Center on HIV and Aging at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an HIV group based in New York.

Participants were recruited largely through service organizations in San Francisco and were asked to fill out 70-page surveys. Acria is conducting similar surveys in Oakland and several other U.S. cities and hopes to eventually include 3,000 older adults with HIV.

The San Francisco survey results weren’t surprising to older people with HIV or to the people who work with them. But they are an important step in drawing attention to the issues around HIV and aging, especially for people outside the epidemic who may not know how the demographics and needs have shifted, said researchers who put together the survey.

“The older adult population dominates the epidemic. A lot of people still don’t know that,” said Stephen Karpiak, senior director for research at Acria and a co-author of the survey report. “We’ve done a very good job to this point (in the epidemic), but we’re not prepared to do the next leg, which is a difficult one. And the older adult is feeling abandoned.”

Jesus Guillen, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and is founder of a Facebook group for long-term survivors, said that if anything, the survey underestimates the issues affecting his community.

He believes that loneliness, which was reported by about 40 percent of survey respondents, is far more prevalent. Social isolation is widespread, he said, and those who are most isolated aren’t easily reachable for surveys and other kinds of studies.

In his Facebook group, members often talk about depression and suicide, about extreme fatigue and chronic pain. They frequently worry about finances and about losing their housing, especially in an expensive city like San Francisco.

Guillen himself has suffered multiple physical and mental health setbacks that he connects to being a long-term survivor. He’s had neuropathy for decades. Two months ago he had a hip replacement, which he needed because of early onset osteoporosis. Last year, he had a mild case of Kaposi’s sarcoma, the skin cancer that was once a hallmark of AIDS. He’s suffered bouts of depression that kept him holed up in his Hayes Valley apartment for days.

“I don’t think this study really illustrates how difficult it is,” said Guillen, 58. “It really feels that if we are not doing something for this community soon, we will have more people dying.”

Some of the ailments described in the report are directly tied to HIV infection. People who have been HIV-positive for several decades may be disabled by pain or mobility issues caused by the infection or the drugs to treat it.

But other conditions are less obviously tied to HIV. People sometimes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the extreme grief they suffered from losing so many friends and lovers to AIDS, or from fearing for their own life for so many years. Problems such as depression and loneliness also may be caused by the loss of so much of their community.

Physical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis may be linked to HIV, but doctors still aren’t clear on that. For many years, scientists believed that HIV caused premature aging, but studies have since shown that may not be the case. Older people with HIV aren’t necessarily suffering these conditions earlier — they’re just contracting more of them than would be expected for someone their age.

Complicating their care is that most older adults with HIV are used to seeing an infectious disease specialist for treatment — someone with expertise in HIV in particular. But those doctors don’t necessarily know how to treat heart disease or arthritis or diabetes, or all three at once.

San Francisco General’s geriatric clinic, called Golden Compass, is meant to bridge that gap in care, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, medical director of Ward 86. But it’s just one clinic and can’t be expected to handle the thousands of older adults with HIV in San Francisco.

Though Golden Compass is designed to help patients beyond their physical ailments — addressing isolation, stress, addiction and other concerns — doctors and nurses there can do only so much to help with anxiety around housing and finances.

In Crisostomo’s 50-Plus group, participants often talk about the stresses of just getting by in a city they can’t quite afford but also can’t afford to leave. Few other places have the doctors and other resources that San Francisco provides, even if it’s still not enough, said Kim Armbruster, 65.

“I feel like I can’t leave because of the HIV care in San Francisco. At the same time, I feel like I can’t stay because everything has gotten so outrageously expensive. It’s kind of pressure from both sides,” Armbruster said.

“Being HIV-positive and being in San Francisco — I won’t say it’s a marriage made in heaven,” he said. “But I’m glad I’m in San Francisco and not Tucson or Napoleon, Ohio, where I grew up.”

Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @erinallday

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Ross reported as being taken into mental health care

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is understood to have been taken into mental health care.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

New Zealand Herald is reporting Mr Ross has been taken to a mental health facility in Auckland

Mr Ross resigned from the National Party caucus earlier this week. At the time he also said he intended to resign his Botany Seat, effective Friday 19 October. However, Mr Ross said on that day he had changed his mind and would stay on in Parliament as an independent MP.

He has been the subject of several allegations of harassing women, claims which he has denied.

Mr Ross admitted to having had a mental breakdown a few weeks prior but said he had recovered.

A National Party spokesperson said it had been seeking advice from medical professionals and ensuring support was available for Mr Ross but declined to comment on the reports this evening.

Police also declined comment.

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Health systems move slowly toward ‘high-touch’ primary care

A number of hospital systems have moved to establish intensive, team-based primary care clinics along the lines of those operated by innovative independent operators like ChenMed and Iora Health.

They include Stanford Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bellin Health, UnityPoint Health, Intermountain Healthcare and Mount Sinai Health System.

Some systems are doing it on their own, while others have partners. A recent American Hospital Association survey found that 19% of systems have purchased or partnered with an entity designed to deliver intensive primary care, while 57% said they are likely to do so.

Johns Hopkins Community Physicians launched a team-based clinic for high-utilizing Medicaid patients four years ago, and currently is rolling out similar models for Medicare Advantage and for homebound patients.



Read more

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Too many people missing out on health benefits of golf, some experts say

(Reuters Health) – Playing golf is associated with better strength and balance, a sharper mind, a lower risk of heart disease and a longer life, according to public health experts who say more people should take up the sport.

While an estimated 60 million people play golf at least twice a year, golfers are primarily middle aged and older, affluent, male, white, and living in North America, Europe and Australia, experts note in the 2018 International Consensus Statement on Golf and Health published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Golf can provide aerobic physical activity to persons of all ages, and strength and balance benefits to older adults,” said Dr. Andrew Murray of the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

“Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health, decreasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, as well as dementia, depression and anxiety,” Murray, lead author of the consensus statement, said by email.

“Golf is not unique in providing this, and anything involving physical activity can be of great benefit,” Murray added. “Golf additionally is green exercise, gives time to relax, and in a world where older adults are generally less active than youngsters, can be played from 3 to 103.”

To assess the physical and mental health benefits of golf and propose ways to make the sport more accessible to a wider population, Murray and more than two dozen other experts in public health, health policy and industry reviewed data from 342 previously published studies on the sport. The work was funded in part by the World Golf Foundation.

Compared with other sports, the risk of injury in golf is moderate, these experts conclude. But because golf is an outdoor activity, golfers may have a higher risk of skin cancer than people who take up indoor sports or activities that don’t involve as much time outside.

To get the most benefit from the sport, golfers should play for at least 150 minutes a week and avoid riding in the golf cart, the authors advise. Players should also do warm-up and strengthening exercises to lower their risk of injury and use sunscreen and protective clothing to limit their risk of skin cancer.

Cost and perceptions of the sport as the domain of older white men may put some people off the idea of playing golf, however. The sport is also perceived as difficult to learn and unwelcoming to women and people of color.

Leaders in golf should make a greater effort to make the sport more inclusive and welcoming of people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds, the experts advise.

“Golf is one of many sporting activities that may contribute to the lowering of global physical inactivity, and it is a sport that is particularly popular among middle-aged and older adults with the potential of lifelong participation,” said Peter Krustrup, a professor of sport and health sciences at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense who wasn’t involved in the consensus statement.

For people who need to improve cardiovascular fitness, however, golf may need to be supplemented with other exercise, Krustrup said by email.

“Golf is a low-impact sport and golfers never reach very high heart rates when playing golf, making golf a non-optimal sport (for improving) cardiorespiratory fitness and musculoskeletal fitness,” Krustrup said. “Therefore, it makes good sense that the consensus statement says that taking part in physical activities additional to golf is likely to offer further health benefits.”

SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, online September 23, 2018.

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The GOP Hides Its Real Health-Care Stance

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Houseplants can boost health by improving air quality, study finds

Home is where the plant is! Houseplants can boost health by improving air quality and reducing the risk of dry skin, finds study

  • Having a ‘thirsty’ plant like a peace lily or ivy indoors could be beneficial 
  • Their process of sucking up CO2 and releasing water vapour improves air
  • More humid air makes your skin and airways less likely to dry out and be irritated 

Sam Blanchard Health Reporter For Mailonline

Having a houseplant could make you healthier by leaving the air you breathe less harsh and higher in oxygen, scientists say.

Research has found having a plant like a peace lily or ivy indoors can provide benefits by improving the air quality in the home.

‘Thirsty’ plants which demand a lot of water and sunlight could improve the atmosphere through their own growing processes.

These involve releasing water vapour into the air around them, and sucking in carbon dioxide and pumping out oxygen.

In turn, this could be a ‘simple and affordable’ way to help people reduce their likelihood of dry skin and breathing problems or illnesses, researchers say.

Having a house plant such as a peace lily (pictured) could make you healthier by improving the air quality in the house and making it more humid, reducing the risk of your skin and airways drying out

Having a house plant such as a peace lily (pictured) could make you healthier by improving the air quality in the house and making it more humid, reducing the risk of your skin and airways drying out

Scientists from the University of Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society conducted a study on various plants and how the air around them changes.

They found peace lilies – technical name spathiphyllum – and ivy (hedera) were the best because they take in particularly large amounts of CO2 and water.

Dr Tijana Blanusa, expert for both the RHS and the University of Reading said: ‘We know that people spend the majority of their time – 90 per cent of it, typically – in the home.

‘Plants with high transpiration rates – that is “thirstier” plants that require more water to grow well – and large canopies, are able to provide good humidity benefits.


A review of scientific evidence by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2016 suggests workers are more productive when their office is filled with greenery, and hospital patients even tolerate pain better if there is a plant on the ward.  

Plants also reduce stress levels and improve mood, they say, as well as trapping and filtering pollutants that are linked to thousands of deaths a year.

The best-known advantage of indoor plants is psychological, the RHS scientists said.

The presence of plants reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.

Writing in the The Plantsman horticultural journal in 2016, the scientists said: ‘A spider plant is a good choice, or even common English ivy – anything that will survive indoors is a good choice.

‘We know that plants are calming, but there is also a lot of evidence that they are beneficial to human health.  

‘Indoor plants elicit a number of physical health benefits, including the removal of airborne pollutants.’ 

‘In our study of seven popular varieties differing in structure and physiological function, the best performing were peace lily and ivy but there are likely to be many other species whose characteristics lend themselves to the job and need to be tested still.

‘House plants may be a simple and affordable way to reduce air dryness indoors and alleviate symptoms of dry skin, while providing multiple other benefits – for human psyche and physical health.’

Higher humidity in the air means skin is moister and less likely to dry out.

If skin inside the airways dries out it can cause irritation and worsen breathing conditions or sinus infections, the researchers said.

Past research has also suggested flu may be less able to spread in environments with higher humidity because the viruses cannot travel as well through air.

And plants also absorb CO2 from the air around them, enriching the same air with oxygen which is vital for the human body.

The researchers found this effect was much smaller but could be more pronounced when there are more, bigger plants living in well-lit, well-watered conditions.

Dr. Blanusa added: ‘Most office buildings would benefit from introducing additional planting.

‘We are, however, seeing a positive trend in refurbished and new buildings having more greenery included.

‘Our research suggests that to maximise the benefits by plants, additional lighting to improve plants’ activity would offer advantages.’

The research was published in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere Health.

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