For those of us who work inside all day, its common to want to bring a little bit of the outside in; i.e. a friendly house plant to brighten up the lab. But is it allowed? CAP does not have specific regulations against it, nor does OSHA, as for the CDC, it depends what bio-safety level your lab is. The laboratory biosafety level criteria for BSL-2 labs does mention that “Animal and plants not associated with the work being performed must not be permitted in the laboratory.”. Bio Safety Level 1 labs however, should be fine with a plant, but as with all lab protocol it is important to keep obvious safety concerns in mind. Don’t put the plant anywhere it could contaminate specimens or get the in the way of patient care (Duh!). That being said, plants can be a great way to improve the air quality of the lab.
Air quality in the lab is something that IS regulated by OSHA. The Air Contaminants Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000) provides rules for protecting workers against dangerous levels of over 400 chemicals.
Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that are known to help in removing some of the common histology chemicals from the air.For example, garden mums and spider plants are known to remove formaldehyde and xylene. Check out this list of air cleansing plants for some laboratory gardening inspiration!