New research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society concluded that common house plants could absorb harmful pollutants, cleaning the indoor air. An interesting observation for people who don’t have indoor plants inside their homes or offices.
Vadoud Nouri, a chemist at the State University of New York at Oswego and author of the study, decided to investigate simple ways to clean the air after he accompanied his wife to a nail salon. The VOC are volatile organic compounds, toxic pollutants that can be found in dry cleaning, paints, furniture, and yes, nail polish remover.
“I went with my wife and couldn’t handle it. You could smell all the VOCs,” said Niri.
Niri started to research and concluded that simple houseplants remove VOCs from the air in a very cheap, effective way. The chemist put the plants inside a 76-liter container that was polluted with the compounds and tested if the VOCs diminished and how fast.
Spider plants, for example, started cleaning the air as soon as they were put in the containers, while dracaenas, with their long and strap-like leaves, removed ninety-four percent of the acetone in the air. Meanwhile, tropical plants such as bromeliads (with spiky red flowers and long leaves) removed eighty percent of six different VOCs in twelve hours.
Now, Niri wants to test his plants outside the containers, in real, habitable rooms, to confirm their effectiveness. He especially wants to put dracaenas at nail salons, to help clean the air and eliminate the characteristic smell of the salons, product of the compounds.
However, the research still has not been or published in a scientific journal or peer-reviewed. But Niri is optimistic he has found an alternative to the traditional ventilation systems.
One could survive hours without drinking water and days without consuming food, but would die after a few minutes without air. Hence, it is crucial that the air being consumed is the highest quality available. Therefore, air pollution is considered a dangerous threat to humankind.
Indoor air pollution
The research has also shed light on the fact that air pollution in closed spaces is even worse than outside. For example to the Environmental Protection Agency, concentrations of VOCs are around five times higher indoors than outdoors.
That is particularly the case for nail salons, where all the compounds are concentrated in even higher doses because of the vast use of nail remover, hair dyes, and other products. As such, there are more studies regarding the effects of working in said salons that there are for exposition at home.
Even small doses of exposures to VOCs over a considerable period has been linked to cancer and nervous system and liver damage, even though the exposition is mostly asymptomatic.
Is only in large doses when some people feel dizziness, nausea, headaches, breathing problems, skin problems and memory impairment., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.