Study of phytoremediation benefits of 86 indoor plants published

Jun 23, 2011

Formaldehyde is a major contaminant of indoor air, originating from particle board, carpet, window coverings, paper products, tobacco smoke, and other sources. Indoor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde can contribute to allergies, asthma, headaches, and a condition known as ''sick building syndrome". The concern is widespread; a 2002 report from the World Health Organization estimated that undesirable indoor volatiles represent a serious health problem that is responsible for more than 1.6 million deaths per year and 2.7% of the global burden of disease.

Scientists have long known the benefits of using plants to absorb and metabolize gaseous . Phytoremediation—the use of green plants to remove pollutants or render them harmless—is seen as a potentially viable and environmentally significant means of improving the indoor air quality in homes and offices. A team of scientists from Korean's Rural Development Administration and the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia tested the efficiency of volatile formaldehyde removal in 86 species of plants representing five general classes (ferns, woody foliage plants, herbaceous foliage plants, Korean native plants, and herbs). The results of the extensive research were published in HortScience.

Phytoremediation potential was assessed by exposing the plants to gaseous formaldehyde in airtight chambers constructed of inert materials and measuring the rate of removal. Osmunda japonica (Japanese royal fern), Selaginella tamariscina (Spikemoss), Davallia mariesii (Hare's-foot fern), Polypodium formosanum, Psidium guajava (Guava), Lavandula (Sweet Lavender), Pteris dispar, Pteris multifida (Spider fern), and Pelargonium (Geranium) were the most effective species tested. Ferns had the highest formaldehyde removal efficiency of the five classes of plants tested, with Osmunda japonica determined to be most effective of all 86 species, coming in at 50 times more effective than the least (D. deremensis) efficient species.

"Based on the wide range of formaldehyde removal efficiency among the plants tested, we separated the species into three general groups: excellent, intermediate, and poor", said corresponding author Kwang Jin Kim. "The species classified as excellent are considered desirable for use in homes and offices where the formaldehyde concentration in the air is a concern. It is evident from our results that certain species have the potential to improve interior environments and, in so doing, the health and well-being of the inhabitants".

Explore further: Research shows impact of BMR on brain size in fish

More information: hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/10/1489

Related Stories

Research shows some plants can remove indoor pollutants

Dec 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some plants have the ability to drastically reduce levels of indoor pollutants, according to new research at the University of Georgia. Researchers showed that certain species can effectively ...

Indoor plants can reduce formaldehyde levels

Feb 17, 2009

The toxic gas formaldehyde is contained in building materials including carpeting, curtains, plywood, and adhesives. As it is emitted from these sources, it deteriorates the air quality, which can lead to "multiple chemical ...

Common plants can eliminate indoor air pollutants

Nov 04, 2009

Air quality in homes, offices, and other indoor spaces is becoming a major health concern, particularly in developed countries where people often spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Surprisingly, indoor ...

Better indoor air starts with minerals

Jan 05, 2011

One of the sources of emission for pollutants in living spaces are particleboards glued with adhesives that contain formaldehyde. There is a new method that will now provide another way to reduce these vapors. ...

Recommended for you

Research shows impact of BMR on brain size in fish

Apr 24, 2015

A commonly used term to describe nutritional needs and energy expenditure in humans – basal metabolic rate – could also be used to give insight into brain size of ocean fish, according to new research by Dr Teresa Iglesias ...

Why do animals fight members of other species?

Apr 23, 2015

Why do animals fight with members of other species? A nine-year study by UCLA biologists says the reason often has to do with "obtaining priority access to females" in the area.

Dolphins use extra energy to communicate in noisy waters

Apr 23, 2015

Dolphins that raise their voices to be heard in noisy environments expend extra energy in doing so, according to new research that for the first time measures the biological costs to marine mammals of trying ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.