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Household plants can clean the air of pollutants like benzene

This study compared the rates of VOC removal (benzene  as the model VOC) by seven potted plant species/varieties. The tested plant species were Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm), two variations of Spathiphyllum floribundum (var. Petite and Sensation), Dracaena deremensis (var. Janet Craig), D. marginata, Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy), and Schefflera actinophylla var. Amate (Queensland Umbrella Tree).

The main agents of the benzene removal were the micro-organisms of the potting mix rhizosphere, but with some species, the plant also made a measurable contribution to removal rates by absorption. Potting mix samples from all plant species removed approximately 97 % of the benzene in 24 h, while the micro-organism cultures removed approximately 95 %.

The results of the study were consistent with already known and mutually supportive plant/soil-micro-organism interactions, and developments in microbially-based ‘biofilter reactors’ for cleaning VOC-contaminated air. Potted plant microcosm has a capacity to contribute greatly to healthier indoor air.