PHILADELPHIA – Potted plants in the house can make indoor air healthier by cutting down ozone levels, according to a new study.
Ozone, the main component of air pollution, also known as smog, is a highly reactive, colorless gas formed when oxygen reacts with other chemicals.
Although ozone pollution is most often associated with outdoor air, the gas also infiltrates indoor environments through ordinary copy machines, laser printers, ultraviolet lights, and some electrostatic air purification systems, all of which contribute to increased indoor ozone levels.
Exposure to the toxic gas can lead to pulmonary edema, hemorrhage, inflammation, and reduction of lung function.
A research team from the Pennsylvania State University studied the effects of three houseplants such as snake plant, spider plant, and golden pothos, on indoor ozone levels.
To simulate an indoor environment, the researchers set up chambers in a greenhouse equipped with a charcoal filtration air supply system in which ozone concentrations could be measured and regulated.
Ozone was then injected into the chambers, and the chambers were checked every 5 to 6 minutes.
The findings revealed that ozone depletion rates were higher in the chambers that contained plants than in the control chambers without plants, but there were no differences in effectiveness among the three plants.
“Because indoor air pollution extensively affects developing countries, using plants as a mitigation method could serve as a cost-effective tool in the developing world where expensive pollution mitigation technology may not be economically feasible”, said the authors.
The study is published in American Society of Horticultural Science’s journal HortTechnology.