House plants are not only pleasant living companions, but they also provide several evidence-based health benefits. A study has revealed that plants can efficiently remove toxic gasoline fumes, including cancer-causing compounds such as benzene, from indoor air.
Leading Australian plantscaping solutions business Ambius collaborated with bioremediation researcher Associate Professor Fraser Torpy of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to lead the project.
97 per cent of the most poisonous substances were eliminated from the surrounding air in just eight hours, according to the researchers, who discovered that the Ambius small green wall, which is made up of a variety of indoor plants, is very successful at eliminating dangerous, cancer-causing contaminants.
Indoor air quality is significantly more polluted than outdoor air
The World Health Organisation estimates that poor indoor air quality causes 6.7 million premature deaths worldwide. Most people spend ninety per cent of their time indoors, whether at work, school, or home, so finding innovative ways to enhance the air quality is essential.
As per Johan Hodgson, general manager of Ambius, the research offers fresh proof of the vital function that indoor plants and green walls perform in rapidly and environmentally cleaning the air we breathe.
“We know that indoor air quality is often significantly more polluted than outdoor air, which in turn impacts mental and physical health. But the great news is this study has shown that something as simple as having plants indoors can make a huge difference,” Mr. Hodgson said.
Plants remove most harmful gasoline-related pollutants from the air
Although a variety of indoor air pollutants have been successfully removed by indoor plants in the past, this is the first investigation into the plant’s capacity to remove petrol vapours, one of the main sources of harmful chemicals in buildings globally.
It can be challenging to prevent dangerous compounds associated to petrol from leaking into work and residential areas because offices and residential apartment buildings frequently connect directly to parking garages, either by doors or lift shafts. Additionally, a lot of buildings are exposed to petrol fumes from adjacent highways and roads.
Inhaling petrol fumes has been related to a lower life expectancy by increasing the risk of cancer, asthma, and other chronic diseases over time. It can also cause headaches, nausea, and irritation of the lungs.
According to Associate Professor Torpy, the study’s outcomes—which were derived from measurements made inside a sealed chamber—far outperformed their predictions in terms of eliminating airborne petrol contaminants.
“This is the first time plants have been tested for their ability to remove gasoline-related compounds, and the results are astounding.
“Not only can plants remove the majority of pollutants from the air in a matter of hours, but they also remove the most harmful gasoline-related pollutants from the air most efficiently, for example, known carcinogen benzene is digested faster than less harmful substances, like alcohols.
Plants are just not ‘nice to have’ but crucial part of indoor space
“We also found that the more concentrated the toxins in the air, the faster and more effective the plants became at removing the toxins, showing that plants adapt to the conditions they’re growing in,” Associate Professor Torpy said.
According to Mr. Hodgson, the results validated the input they had gotten following the installation of plants in hundreds of office buildings around the country.
“At Ambius, we see over and over again the effects plants have in improving health, wellbeing, productivity, and office attendance for the thousands of businesses we work with. This new research proves that plants should not just be seen as ‘nice to have’, but rather as a crucial part of every workplace wellness plan.
“The bottom line is that the best, most cost-effective, and most sustainable way to combat harmful indoor air contaminants in your workplace and home is to introduce plants,” Mr Hodgson said.
Materials provided by the University of Technology Sydney. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
University of Technology Sydney. “Plants remove cancer-causing toxins from air.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/05/230526121110.htm>.
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