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Indoor Air Quality and Interior Design Woes Have One Solution

Aug 25, 2016 04:35 AM EDT

Common house plants are surprisingly efficient at removing pollutants from indoor air, as well as providing a pop of color and life to interior decorations.

A chemist at the State University of New York at Oswego Vadoud Niri presented research supporting the effectiveness of house plants on removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society on Wednesday. Niri was inspired by a trip to a nail salon with his wife where the smell of VOCs overwhelmed him.

"Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them," Niri said in a release.

"Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies. We must do something about VOCs in indoor air."

Sick building syndrome isn't well understood, but typically affects office workers. Unhealthy levels of VOCs can be a cause of sick building syndrome.

Niri tested five different plants in sealed containers containing eight VOCs. He measured the amount of VOCs at differing points of time.

Every plant tested was able to remove much of the acetone, making it the easiest VOC to remove. The troical, spiky leafed bromeliad performed the best and was was able to remove high levels six of the eight VOCs.

The scientific term for using plants to remove VOCs is biofiltration or phytoremediation. Plants are a cheaper and easier solyion to indoor pollution than installing ventilation systems.

To date, a paper or study has not been published. Further research is planned to study the effectiveness of the plants removal of VOCs in real life situations.

House plants are also credited with brighting up living spaces and improving people's psychological state. HGTV recommends bromeliads as their number one choice for house plants, incidentally the best plant at decreasing air pollution in your home.

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