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Indoor Plants Found to Release Volatile Organic Compounds


Offbeat  (tags: VOCs, studyhouse plants, weeping fig )

Karen
- 1823 days ago - eurekalert.org
ATHENS, GA--Potted plants add a certain aesthetic value to homes and offices, bringing a touch of nature to indoor spaces. It has also been shown that many common house plants have the ability to remove volatile organic compounds--gases or vapors emitted



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Karen S. (106)
Friday September 4, 2009, 3:45 am
ATHENS, GA—Potted plants add a certain aesthetic value to homes and offices, bringing a touch of nature to indoor spaces. It has also been shown that many common house plants have the ability to remove volatile organic compounds—gases or vapors emitted by solids and liquids that may have adverse short- and long-term health effects on humans and animals—from indoor air. But take heed when considering adding some green to your environment; in addition to giving off healthy oxygen and sucking out harmful VOCs, a new study shows that some indoor plants actually release volatile organic compounds into the environment.

A research team headed by Stanley J. Kays of the University of Georgia's Department of Horticulture conducted a study to identify and measure the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by four popular indoor potted plant species. The study, published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortScience, also noted the source of VOCs and differences in emission rates between day and night.

The four plants used in the study were Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii Regel), Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata Prain), Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina L.), and Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens Wendl.). Samples of each plant were placed in glass containers with inlet ports connected to charcoal filters to supply purified air and outlet ports connected to traps where volatile emissions were measured. The results were compared to empty containers to verify the absence of contaminants. A total of 23 volatile compounds were found in Peace Lily, 16 in Areca Palm, 13 in Weeping Fig, and 12 in Snake Plant. Some of the VOCs are ingredients in pesticides applied to several species during the production phase.

Other VOCs released did not come from the plant itself, but rather the micro-organisms living in the soil. "Although micro-organisms in the media have been shown to be important in the removal of volatile air pollutants, they also release volatiles into the atmosphere", Kays stated. Furthermore, 11 of the VOCs came from the plastic pots containing the plants. Several of these VOCs are known to negatively affect animals.

Interestingly, VOC emission rates were higher during the day than at night in all of the species, and all classes of emissions were higher in the day than at night. The presence of light along with many other factors effect synthesis, which determines the rate of release.

The study concluded that "while ornamental plants are known to remove certain VOCs, they also emit a variety of VOCs, some of which are known to be biologically active. The longevity of these compounds has not been adequately studied, and the impact of these compounds on humans is unknown."

###

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS Hortscience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/44/2/396

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org
 

Betsy Bee (1050)
Friday September 4, 2009, 12:56 pm
I don't think anyone can dispute the research done at the University of George, Their botanical and agricultural colleges are superior to so many other schools.
 

Tierney G. (383)
Friday September 4, 2009, 2:28 pm
Then I guess I am breathing in good air! I have a house full of plants all of the ones int the study as well. I have heard this many times being an avid gardener, but this is good for all to know. Grow Plants !!!
Thanks Karen
 

Tierney G. (383)
Friday September 4, 2009, 2:31 pm
Whoops i miss read the article!!!! i am still here and not ill so I guess that is good.
 

Karen S. (106)
Saturday September 5, 2009, 2:01 pm
Those plants are almost standard. For close to 10 years I had two 18' weeping figs in my house. Now, I have a peace lily and a snake plant. I bought the peace lily because I read they absorb VOCs. Guess I'm going to have to rethink that one.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday September 5, 2009, 6:56 pm
I don't have many plants in the house, just my huge Easter cactus, my hot pepper plants, and some ivy. I also have recently received a bonsai rubber plant but this one is going to go live with a friend who knows more about bonsais than I do. Thanks Karen, I'll watch out for the ones in the article.
 

Shelly K. (0)
Monday November 30, 2009, 12:06 am
It's such an obviously bogus study!

"Some of the VOCs are ingredients in pesticides applied to several species during the production phase." "Other VOCs released did not come from the plant itself, but rather the micro-organisms living in the soil."

Did you forget to grow the plants in organic sterilized soil for your "scientific" study?

"11 of the VOCs came from the plastic pots containing the plants" Who funded this study?

Furthermore, where is the comparison to the toxic VOCs that the plants remove? What about all the other pollutants the plants remove? How many different kinds as well as the concentration levels.

This article tells me nothing except someone is paying for and promoting a bogus study.
 

Karen S. (106)
Monday November 30, 2009, 11:54 am
As near as I can tell the text from the study is proprietary and is available at one of the links in the article. There is no disclosure as to who funded this particular study in the article and I don't know if the details of the study itself will reveal who the funder was. What I do know about funding for ASHS is that much of their research is federally funded.

I took from the article that the VOCs were coming from potted plants. Normally when I buy houseplants, they come with a pot and soil. I'm not in the habit of bringing home plants and repotting them immediately in organic soil in pots that don't off-gas. I think that was the point of the article.
 

Shelly K. (0)
Monday November 30, 2009, 12:45 pm
If the point of the article was that the soil and pots you use may be off gasing toxins, then that should have been the title.

"a new study shows that some indoor plants actually release volatile organic compounds into the environment. " There is no information to support this statement in this article.

TED talks: How To Grow Your Own Fresh Air
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_fresh_air.html
 

Past Member (0)
Wednesday February 22, 2012, 1:44 am
Organic compounds form in different ways where natural and synthetic compounds come into place. Natural compounds are those which are formed by plants or animals.
 
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