Indoor plants possess an unexpected ability to effectively eliminate cancer-causing toxins

Published Date: May 31, 2023 |

Indoor plants possess an unexpected ability to effectively eliminate cancer-causing toxins

Scientists have showcased the remarkable efficacy of plants in purifying the air within residential, educational, and professional environments by removing harmful and cancer-causing pollutants. This eco-friendly and cost-effective approach offers a sustainable solution to ensure cleaner indoor air quality, considering that individuals spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.

Gasoline vapor is a prevalent contributor to indoor air pollution, containing a group of volatile organic compounds known as BTEX, namely benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. These compounds are not only highly toxic but also possess significant carcinogenic properties, leading to respiratory ailments and central nervous system disorders. Research has demonstrated that BTEX concentrations inside schools can be influenced by nearby gas stations located up to a distance of 820 ft (250 m).

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, highlights the impressive effectiveness of plants in eliminating harmful indoor air pollutants. Johan Hodgson, the general manager of Ambius, the plant providers collaborating with the researchers, emphasized the detrimental impact of indoor air pollution on both mental and physical well-being. He stated, “We are well aware that indoor air quality is often significantly more polluted than outdoor air. However, the encouraging outcome of this study reveals that the presence of indoor plants can bring about a remarkable transformation.”

Unlike conventional air-cleaning technologies like filtration devices in HVAC systems, which are ineffective in eliminating gaseous pollutants from indoor air, plants have long been recognized for their remarkable capability to remove a wide array of contaminants. However, until recently, no comprehensive research had been conducted to assess the extent of their effectiveness in this regard.

In collaboration with Ambius, the researchers developed a Small Live Green Wall (SLGW) using indoor plants that are renowned for their phytoremediation properties. Phytoremediation refers to the process of utilizing plants to cleanse polluted soil, air, and water.

To conduct their experiment, the researchers evaluated nine Small Live Green Wall (SLGW) systems. Each system consisted of devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum), arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum), and spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). As a comparison, a control setup was created with only potting mixture and no plants. The SLGWs were carefully positioned inside sealed perspex chambers and subjected to volatile organic compounds. Subsequently, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was employed to analyze the collected data.

The research findings revealed a significant removal rate of the compounds under investigation. Particularly noteworthy was the high effectiveness observed in eliminating alkanes (97.9%), benzene derivatives (85.96%), and cyclopentane (88.18%), all of which are recognized for their detrimental health effects. The benzene derivatives examined included BTEX. Impressively, within just eight hours, the concentrations of all compounds were reduced to less than 20% of their initial levels.

Fraser Torpy, the lead researcher in bioremediation, expressed astonishment at the findings, stating, “This study marks the first instance where plants have been assessed for their capacity to eliminate compounds associated with petrol, and the outcomes are truly remarkable. Within a matter of hours, plants not only remove a significant portion of air pollutants but also exhibit a heightened efficiency in eliminating the most hazardous petrol-related pollutants. For instance, benzene, a well-known carcinogen, is processed at a faster rate compared to less harmful substances such as alcohols.”

The researchers also observed that the concentration of pollutants directly affected the plants’ digestion efficiency. “Furthermore, we discovered that as the concentration of toxins in the air increased, the plants exhibited a heightened ability to remove them at a faster rate and with greater effectiveness. This finding demonstrates the adaptability of plants to the specific environmental conditions in which they thrive,” explained Torpy.

The results of the study provide compelling evidence that plants offer an effective and sustainable solution to counteract detrimental indoor pollution. Moreover, their affordability and ease of implementation make them a practical choice for improving the air quality in homes, schools, and workplaces. Additionally, plants typically require minimal upkeep, adding to their appeal as a low-maintenance option.

Source: University of Technology Sydney


Market Review:

The indoor plant market has been witnessing substantial growth in recent years due to various factors. One significant factor is the increasing awareness among individuals regarding the importance of health and well-being in their living spaces. Indoor plants have gained recognition for their ability to purify the air, improve indoor air quality, and reduce stress levels. People are now actively seeking out indoor plants as a natural and aesthetically pleasing way to enhance their living environments.

The market is estimated to register a significant CAGR of ~ 5% during the forecast period from 2023 to 2030. Read the full report coverage of the global indoor plants market

Another contributing factor is the trend of urbanization, which has resulted in smaller living spaces such as apartments and condos. With limited access to outdoor gardens, individuals are turning to indoor plants as a means to bring nature inside and create a green oasis within their homes. Indoor plants not only add beauty and a touch of nature but also provide a sense of calm and tranquility in urban settings.

Furthermore, the ease of availability and affordability of indoor plants have played a significant role in the market growth. The increasing number of nurseries, garden centers, and online platforms dedicated to indoor plants has made it easier for consumers to access a wide variety of plant options. Additionally, the relatively low maintenance requirements of many indoor plants make them attractive to busy individuals seeking greenery without extensive care needs.

Overall, the indoor plant market is expanding due to the growing awareness of the health benefits they offer, the desire for nature in urban living spaces, and the convenience of obtaining and maintaining indoor plants.

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