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Twenty-eight ornamental species commonly used for interior plantscapes were screened for their ability to remove five volatile indoor pollutants: aromatic hydrocarbons (benzene and toluene), aliphatic hydrocarbon (octane), halogenated hydrocarbon [trichloroethylene (TCE)], and terpene (-pinene). Individual plants were placed in 10.5-L gas-tight glass jars and exposed to 10 ppm (31.9, 53.7, 37.7, 46.7, and 55.7 mg·m –3) of benzene, TCE, toluene, octane, and -pinene, respectively. Air samples (1.0 mL) within the glass containers were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy 3 and 6 h after exposure to the test pollutants to determine removal efficiency by monitoring the decline in concentration over 6 h within sealed glass containers. To determine removal by the plant, removal by other means (glass, plant pot, media) was subtracted. The removal efficiency, expressed on a leaf area basis for each volatile organic compound (VOC), varied with plant species. Of the 28 species tested, Hemigraphis alternata, Hedera helix, Hoya carnosa, and Asparagus densiflorus had the highest removal efficiencies for all pollutants; Tradescantia pallida displayed superior removal efficiency for four of the five VOCs (i.e., benzene, toluene, TCE, and -pinene). The five species ranged in their removal efficiency from 26.08 to 44.04 µg·m–3·m–2·h–1 of the total VOCs. Fittonia argyroneura effectively removed benzene, toluene, and TCE. Ficus benjamina effectively removed octane and -pinene, whereas Polyscias fruticosa effectively removed octane. The variation in removal efficiency among species indicates that for maximum improvement of indoor air quality, multiple species are needed. The number and type of plants should be tailored to the type of VOCs present and their rates of emanation at each specific indoor location.
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HORTSCIENCE 44(5):1377–1381. 2009.
Screening Indoor Plants for Volatile
Organic Pollutant Removal Efficiency
Dong Sik Yang
Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7273
Svoboda V. Pennisi
Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223
Ki-Cheol Son
Department of Environmental Science, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701,
Stanley J. Kays
The Plant Center, Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, 1111
Plant Science Building, Athens, GA 30602-7273
Additional index words. volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene, octane, trichloroeth-
ylene, a-pinene, phytoremediation, indoor air quality
Abstract. Twenty-eight ornamental species commonly used for interior plantscapes were
screened for their ability to remove five volatile indoor pollutants: aromatic hydro-
carbons (benzene and toluene), aliphatic hydrocarbon (octane), halogenated hydrocar-
bon [trichloroethylene (TCE)], and terpene (a-pinene). Individual plants were placed
in 10.5-L gas-tight glass jars and exposed to
10 ppm (31.9, 53.7, 37.7, 46.7, and
55.7 mgm
) of benzene, TCE, toluene, octane, and a-pinene, respectively. Air samples
(1.0 mL) within the glass containers were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass
spectroscopy 3 and 6 h after exposure to the test pollutants to determine removal
efficiency by monitoring the decline in concentration over 6 h within sealed glass
containers. To determine removal by the plant, removal by other means (glass, plant pot,
media) was subtracted. The removal efficiency, expressed on a leaf area basis for each
volatile organic compound (VOC), varied with plant species. Of the 28 species tested,
Hemigraphis alternata,Hedera helix,Hoya carnosa, and Asparagus densiflorus had the
highest removal efficiencies for all pollutants; Tradescantia pallida displayed superior
removal efficiency for four of the five VOCs (i.e., benzene, toluene, TCE, and a-pinene).
The five species ranged in their removal efficiency from 26.08 to 44.04 mgm
the total VOCs. Fittonia argyroneura effectively removed benzene, toluene, and TCE.
Ficus benjamina effectively removed octane and a-pinene, whereas Polyscias fruticosa
effectively removed octane. The variation in removal efficiency among species indicates
that for maximum improvement of indoor air quality, multiple species are needed. The
number and type of plants should be tailored to the type of VOCs present and their rates
of emanation at each specific indoor location.
The importance of indoor air quality to
human health has become of increasing
interest in developed countries where inhab-
itants often spend over 90% of their time
indoors (Jenkins et al., 1992; Snyder, 1990).
Indoor air has been reported to be as much as
12 times more polluted than that outdoors
(Ingrosso, 2002; Orwell et al., 2004; Zabiega1a,
2006). Indoor air pollutants primarily origi-
nate from building product emissions, human
activities inside the building, and infiltration
of outdoor air (Wolkoff and Nielsen, 2001;
Zabiega1a, 2006) and have increased as a
result of the lower gas exchange rates of
newer, more energy-efficient buildings (Cohen,
1996). Indoor air pollutants include volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), particulate mat-
ter, ozone, radon, lead, and biological con-
taminants (Destaillats et al., 2008). Exposure
can cause acute illnesses (e.g., asthma,
nausea) and chronic diseases (e.g., cancer,
immunologic, neurologic, reproductive, de-
velopmental, and respiratory disorders) (Suh
et al., 2000).
VOCs emanating from paints, varnishes,
adhesives, furnishings, clothing, solvents,
building materials, combustion appliances,
and potable water (Jones, 1999; Maroni et al.,
1995; Zabiega1a, 2006) have a negative ef-
fect on indoor air quality (Darlington et al.,
2000). VOCs are generally classified as
aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzene, tolu-
ene, ethylbenzene, xylene), aliphatic hydro-
carbons (e.g., hexane, heptane, octane,
decane), halogenated hydrocarbons [e.g., tri-
chloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride],
and terpenes (e.g., a-pinene, d-limonene)
(Jones, 1999; Suh et al., 2000; Wolkoff and
Nielsen, 2001; Won et al., 2005; Zabiega1a,
2006). Benzene and toluene, octane, TCE, and
a-pinene are representative VOCs from each
class (i.e., aromatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic
hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons, and
terpenes, respectively) and are considered to
be important indoor air pollutants as a result
of their toxicity (Liu et al., 2007; Newman
et al., 1997; Orwell et al., 2006).
Plants remove VOCs from indoor air
through stomatal uptake, absorption, and
adsorption to plant surfaces (Beattie and
Seibel, 2007; Korte et al., 2000; Sandhu
et al., 2007). Several indoor species have
been screened for their ability to remove
benzene (Liu et al., 2007), some of which
could remove 40 to 88 mgm
et al., 2004), in addition to other VOCs (e.g.,
toluene, TCE, m-xylene, hexane) (Cornejo
et al., 1999; Orwell et al., 2006; Wood et al.,
2002; Yoo et al., 2006). The efficiency of
VOC removal varies substantially among
species (Yoo et al., 2006) and with the
molecular characteristics of each compound.
To date, only a limited number of indoor
species have been tested for their phytoreme-
diation potential and the range of pollutants
assessed is even more limited (Cornejo et al.,
1999; Ugrekhelidze et al., 1997; Wolverton
et al., 1989; Wood et al., 2002). It is evident
that a better understanding of the phytoreme-
diation potential of a diverse range of indoor
plants is needed. In this study, a cross-section
of indoor plants (28 species) was screened for
their ability to remove five important VOCs
with differing chemistries (benzene, toluene,
octane, TCE, and a-pinene).
Materials and Methods
Plant material. Twenty-eight species of
popular indoor ornamental plants available in
the southeastern United States, which repre-
sented 26 genera and 15 botanical families
(Table 1), were obtained from commercial
sources. After the media was washed from
the roots, the plants were repotted in 10-cm
(500-cc) pots using a growing media com-
prised of peatmoss, pine bark, and perlite/
vermiculite (2:1:1, v/v) (Fafard 3B; Fafard,
Anderson, SC) and grown in a shade house
for 8 weeks before acclimatization for 12
weeks under indoor conditions, 22 ± 1 C,
50% relative humidity, and 5.45 mmolm
photosynthetically active radiation (PAR)
(LI-COR LI-189 light meter with a line
quantum sensor; LI-COR, Lincoln, NE).
The plants were watered as needed during
growth and acclimatization periods. At the
end of the experiment, the leaf areas were
determined using a LI-3100c leaf area meter
(LI-COR) to allow expressing the removal
efficiency on a leaf area basis.
Introduction of volatile organic com-
pounds. Plants were placed in 10.5-L gas-tight
glass jars (one plant/jar) with the lid fitted with
welded stainless steel tubing inlet and outlet
ports. To facilitate a uniform distribution of
the gases in the jar, the inlet tubing extended
downward within the jar following the contour
of the side of the jar, three-fourths of the
distance to the base. The lids were sealed using
specially constructed 11.8 cm o.d. ·9.8 cm i.d.
Received for publication 14 Nov. 2008. Accepted
for publication 7 Jan. 2009.
To whom reprint requests should be addressed;
gaskets in which a 4.2-mm-thick EPDM rub-
ber gasket was sealed within a Teflon envelope
(Phelps Industrial Products, Elkridge, MD).
The inlet port was connected to a charcoal
filter [Pyrex glass tube (10 cm ·1 cm i.d.) with
2.5 g of charcoal (Alltech Assoc. Inc., Deer-
field, IL)] such that purified air was introduced
into the jar at 150 mlmin
. The plants were
placed in the jars 24 h before treatment and
were maintained at 5.45 mmolm
during a light period (12 h). Just before the
introduction of the VOCs, the inlet and outlet
ports were closed using gas-tight Swagelok
fittings (Georgia Valve & Fitting, Co., Alphar-
etta, GA). The exit port was configured with
Swagelok fittings holding a gas-tight gas
chromatography septum that was capped to
prevent leakage. The cap was briefly removed
when a gas sample was drawn for analysis.
The individual plants were exposed to 10
ppm (31.9, 53.7, 37.7, 46.7, and 55.7 mgm
of high-purity analytical-grade benzene, TCE,
toluene, octane, and a-pinene (Table 2),
respectively, in the gas-tight glass jars.
Through preliminary tests, concentrations of
9.66 (30.9), 11.00 (59.1), 9.66 (36.4), 9.49
(44.3), and 9.82 (54.7) ppm (mgm
compound were created by introducing 2.0,
2.7, 2.4, 4.0, and 4.0 mL of benzene, TCE,
toluene, octane, and a-pinene, respectively,
into the jar using a microsyringe (Agilent
Technologies, Wilmington, DE) and calibrat-
ing the amount of each compound adsorbed
onto the inner surface of the jar. A small 4 cm
diameter 6-V DC brushless fan (RadioShack,
Fort Worth, TX) was placed near the top of
each jar to ensure adequate mixing of the
volatiles. The gas concentration within the jar
was determined after 3 and 6 h during the day.
Three replications of each species were tested
at a setting with a fourth jar used as a control
without the potted plant to measure the con-
centration of airborne VOCs within the empty
jar. Leak tests were carried out on the empty
jar before every fourth experiment; no leakage
was found during the 6-h test period.
Analysis of volatile organic compounds.
Air samples (1.0 mL) within the glass con-
tainers were removed during the light period
from the outlet port using a gas-tight syringe
(Agilent Technologies) 3 and 6 h after expo-
sure to the test VOCs and analyzed by
capillary gas chromatography–mass spec-
troscopy (GC-MS) (6890N/5973; Agilent,
Palo Alto, CA) equipped with a 30 m length
(0.25 mm i.d., 0.25 mm film thickness of 5%
phenyl methyl siloxane) capillary column
(HP-5MS; Agilent). The injection port tem-
perature was 225 C and was operated in the
splitless mode. Helium was used as the
carrier gas at a flow rate of 1.8 mLmin
The column temperature was held at 36 C
for 0.5 min and then programmed at 10 C/
min to 90 C and held for 1 min. Mass
spectroscopy conditions were: ion source
230 C; electron energy 70 eV; multiplier
voltage 1247 V; GC-MS interface zone 280
C; and a scan range of 35 to 350 mass units.
For quantifying absolute concentrations of
each compound, standard curves for each
compound were determined using analytical
standards. Solutions of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50,
and 100 mLL
in hexane of each compound
were prepared. Each standard solution (1.0
mL, three replications) was injected directly
into the GC-MS using a microsyringe. The
concentration of VOCs removed by a plant
was calculated as (Yoo et al., 2006):
ðAÞVOC removal efficiency
ðBÞAccumulated removal concentration of
VOC = ½CðSMÞ=L½2
C = the concentration of VOC in the
control jar (mgm
S = the concentration of VOC in the
sample jar (mgm
Table 1. Family, Latin binomial, common name, and leaf area of test plants exposed to five representative volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene, octane,
trichloroethylene, and a-pinene) over 6 h during the day.
No. Family Latin binomial Common name Leaf area (cm
1 Acanthaceae Fittonia argyroneura Coem. Silver-net leaf 660 ± 45
2 Acanthaceae Hemigraphis alternata (Burm.f.) T. Anders ‘Exotica’ Purple waffle 352 ± 37
3 Agavaceae Dracaena fragrans (L.) Ker-Gawl. Corn plant 712 ± 39
4 Agavaceae Sansevieria trifasciata Prain Snake plant 346 ± 51
5 Anthericaceae Chlorophytum comosum (Thunb.) Jacq. ‘Fire Flash’ Spider plant 574 ± 76
6 Araceae Anthurium andreanum Linden Flamingo flower 616 ± 76
7 Araceae Dieffenbachia seguine (Jacq.) Schott
Dumb cane 670 ± 52
8 Araceae Philodendron scandens ssp. oxycardium Heart leaf philodendron 1085 ± 28
9 Araceae Epipremnum aureum
Pothos 1201 ± 136
10 Araceae Spathiphyllum wallisii Regal Peace lily 598 ± 58
11 Araceae Syngonium podophyllum Schott Arrowhead vine 718 ± 54
12 Araliaceae Schefflera arboricola (Hayata) Merr. ‘Variegata’ Variegated schefflera 587 ± 56
13 Araliaceae Schefflera elegantissima (Hort. Veitch ex Mast.) Lowry & Frodin
False aralia 372 ± 68
14 Araliaceae Hedera helix L. English ivy 319 ± 20
15 Araliaceae Polyscias fruticosa (L.) Harms Ming aralia 477 ± 26
16 Asclepiadaceae Hoya carnosa (L.f.) ‘Variegata’ Variegated wax plant 452 ± 51
17 Bromeliaceae Guzmania sp. Guzmani bormeliad 535 ± 78
18 Commelinaceae Tradescantia pallida (Rose) D.R. Hunt ‘Purpurea’ Purple heart plant 253 ± 33
19 Euphorbiaceae Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Blume Croton 926 ± 48
20 Geraniaceae Pelargonium graveolens L’Her. ex Ait. Rose geranium 501 ± 79
21 Liliaceae Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop ‘Sprengeri’ Asparagus fern 337 ± 9
22 Liliaceae Aspidistra elatior Blume ‘Milky Way’ Cast iron plant 1079 ± 192
23 Marantaceae Calathea roseopicta (Linden) Regal Peacock plant 650 ± 78
24 Marantaceae Maranta leuconeura E. Morren Prayer plant 574 ± 13
25 Moraceae Ficus benjamina L. Weeping fig 482 ± 36
26 Moraceae Ficus elastica Roxb. Rubra Red rubber tree 562 ± 34
27 Palmae Howea belmoreana (C. Moore & F. Muell.) Becc. Sentry palm 769 ± 108
28 Piperaceae Peperomia clusiifolia (Jacq.) Hook. ‘Variegata’ Variegated red-edged peperomia 935 ± 22
Data are means ± SEM (n = 3).
Syn. Diffenbachia amoena Hort. and Bull.
Syn. Scindapsus aureus Engl.
Syn. Dizygotheca elegantissima (Veitch) R.Vig. and Guillaumin.
Table 2. Accumulated removal concentration
of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by
plastic pot (10 cm, 500 cc) containing soilless
media without plant 3 h and 6 h after
introduction of five representative VOCs
[benzene, toluene, octane, trichloroethylene
(TCE), and a-pinene].
Accumulated removal concn by plastic
pot containing media (mgm
3h 6h
Benzene 0.34 ± 0.06 0.38 ± 0.05
Toluene 1.13 ± 0.06 1.21 ± 0.04
Octane 0.35 ± 0.08 0.47 ± 0.07
TCE 1.00 ± 0.17 1.10 ± 0.08
a-Pinene 1.03 ± 0.17 1.13 ± 0.07
Data are means ± SEM (n = 3).
M = the concentration of VOC in the jar
containing only the plastic pot and
media (mgm
) (Table 2)
L = total leaf area (m
T = VOC exposure time (h)
Statistical analysis. Analysis of variance
and Duncan’s multiple range test were car-
ried out by using the SAS system for Win-
dows v8 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC).
Results and Discussion
The initial concentrations of benzene,
toluene, octane, TCE, and a-pinene within
the container were 9.66 ± 0.03 (30.9), 9.66 ±
0.07 (59.1), 9.49 ± 0.06 (36.4), 11.00 ± 0.07
(44.3), and 9.82 ± 0.20 (54.7) ppm (mgm
respectively. The concentration of each
VOC, after subtraction of the concentration
of VOC in jars containing the pot and media
without a plant (Table 2) from that in the
sample jar with plant, decreased with expo-
sure duration, indicating VOC removal by the
plants (Fig. 1). Because the test plants varied
in size and foliar surface area, the removal
efficiency for each VOC was expressed on a
leaf area basis to allow identification of
species with superior removal efficiency.
VOC removal represents the effect of the
plant and subterranean micro-organisms
associated with the plant in the potting media,
the latter of which is known to be an
important contributor (Wood et al., 2002).
The removal efficiency varied substan-
tially among the species tested: benzene
(0.03 to 5.54 mgm
), toluene (1.54
to 9.63), octane (0 to 5.58), TCE (1.48 to
11.08), a-pinene (2.33 to 12.21), and total
VOC (5.55 to 44.04) (Table 3). The results
demonstrate the rate of removal varies
depending on the VOC in question and the
plant species present.
Benzene. Six species with superior ben-
zene removal efficiency were identified:
Hemigraphis alternata (5.54 mgm
Tradescantia pallida (3.86), Hedera helix
(3.63), Fittonia argyroneura (2.74), Aspara-
gus densiflorus (2.65), and Hoya carnosa
(2.21) (Table 3; Fig. 1A). H. alternata had
the highest removal efficiency and the high-
est accumulated removal of benzene at 3 h
and 6 h. At 3 h, five species classified as
having high removal efficiency were not
statistically significant in their accumulated
removal concentrations; however, by 6 h,
there were significant differences (Fig. 1A).
Sansevieria trifasciata (1.76), Ficus benja-
mina (1.66), Polyscias fruticosa (1.53), Guz-
mania sp. (1.46), Anthurium andreanum
(1.31), and Peperomia clusiifolia (1.20) were
classified as having an intermediate benzene
removal efficiency; the remainder had very
low benzene removal efficiencies (Table 3).
Toluene. H. alternata had the highest tolu-
ene removal efficiency (9.63 mgm
followed by T. pallida (9.10), H. helix (8.25),
A. densiflorus (7.44), H. carnosa (5.81), F.
argyroneura (5.09), and F. benjamina (5.06)
(Table 3; Fig. 1B). The plants were much
more effective in removing toluene than
benzene, a finding corroborated by Yoo et al.
(2006). The rate of toluene removal during the
initial 3-h exposure was more rapid compared
with the second 3 h of exposure. Toluene
removal occurs through adsorption to the plant
Fig. 1. Accumulated removal of (A) benzene, (B) toluene, (C) octane, (D) trichloroethylene, and (E)
a-pinene by plants with superior volatile organic compound removal efficiency over 6 h during the
day. Plots with different letters at the same time are significantly different by Duncan’s multiple range
test (P< 0.05). The solid squares, solid triangles, solid circles, open squares, open triangles, and open
circles represent the following species in sequence: (A)Hemigraphis alternata,Tradescantia pallida,
Hedera helix,Fittonia argyroneura,Asparagus densiflorus, and Hoya carnosa;(B)H. alternata,T.
pallida,H. helix,A. densiflorus,H. carnosa, and F. argyroneura;(C)H. alternata,H. helix,Ficus
benjamina,H. carnosa,A. densiflorus, and Polyscias fruticosa;(D)H. alternata,H. helix,T. pallida,A.
densiflorus,F. argyroneura, and H. carnosa; and (E)H. helix,H. alternata,A. densiflorus,T. pallida,
F. benjamina, and H. carnosa.
surface and absorption through stomatal
uptake; the removal rate depends on the
number of stomata and the cuticular structure
(Jen et al., 1995; Ugrekhelidze et al., 1997).
Octane. H. alternata had the highest octane
removal efficiency (5.58 mgm
lowed by H. helix (5.10), F. benjamina (3.98),
H. carnosa (3.80), A. densiflorus (3.76), and
P. fruticosa (3.43) (Table 3; Fig. 1C). Pelar-
gonium graveolens had no effect on octane
concentration, whereas Maranta leuconeura
(0.51 mgm
), Schefflera elegantis-
sima (0.65), Syngonium podophyllum (0.76),
Calathea roseopicta (0.83), and Epipremnum
aureum (0.86) had very low octane removal
efficiencies. The removal of octane, an ali-
phatic hydrocarbon, by indoor plants has not
been reported; however, hexane, also an
aliphatic hydrocarbon, was removed by Dra-
caena deremensis and Spathiphyllum wallisii
(Wood et al., 2002).
Trichloroethylene. The six species that
effectively removed toluene also had supe-
rior TCE removal efficiencies: H. alternata
(11.08 mgm
), H. helix (8.07), T.
pallida (7.95), A. densiflorus (6.69), F. argyr-
oneura (6.15), and H. carnosa (5.79) (Table
3; Fig. 1D). Similar to toluene, the highest
rate of TCE removal was during the initial 3
h, declining subsequently with the exception
of T. pallida in which the rate remained fairly
consistent. Chlorophytum comosum, which
was previously reported to remove TCE
(Cornejoet al., 1999), had an intermediateTCE
removal efficiency (2.86 mgm
a-Pinene. H. helix had the highest a-pinene
removal efficiency (13.28 mgm
the 28 species tested followed by H. alternata
(12.21), A. densiflorus (11.40), T. pallida
(10.45), F. benjamina (8.68), H. carnosa
(8.48), and P. fruticosa (8.30) (Table 3; Fig.
Based on the total VOC removal effi-
ciency, the plants were classified into supe-
rior, intermediate, and poor categories (Table
3). Five species (i.e., H.alternata,H.helix, T.
pallida, A.densiflorus, and H.carnosa) with
superior phytoremediation potential were
identified. Their total VOC removal ranged
from 26.08 to 44.04 mgm
and they
effectively removed each of the test com-
pounds. In contrast, the total VOC removal
efficiency of the six plants classified as having
an intermediate phytoremediation potential
ranged from 17.46 to 24.13 mgm
whereas those with poor efficiencies ranged
from 5.55 to 12.98 mgm
There were no discernible trends in VOC
removal potential based on taxonomical
relatedness. However, the Araceae family
[e.g., E.aureum (6.71 mgm
), S.
podophyllum (7.04), P.scandens ssp. oxy-
cardium (7.26), Dieffencachia seguine
(8.05), S.wallisii (11.15)] generally had poor
phytoremediation potential, whereas repre-
sentatives of the Araliaceae family had, in
general, a far better removal potential [e.g.,
H.helix (38.33 mgm
), P.fruticosa
(21.53), and S.elegantissima (17.46)].
The volatiles tested in this study are
commonly found in buildings. They can
adversely affect indoor air quality and have
a potential to seriously compromise the
health of exposed individuals (Mitchell
et al., 2007; Suh et al., 2000; Zabiega1a,
2006). Benzene and toluene are known to
originate from petroleum-based indoor coat-
ings, cleaning solutions, plastics, environ-
mental tobacco smoke, and exterior exhaust
fumes emanating into the building; octane
from paint, adhesives, and building materi-
als; TCE from tap water, cleaning agents,
insecticides, and plastic products; and
a-pinene from synthetic paints and odorants.
Some of the common indoor VOCs are
known carcinogens (Jones, 1999; Newman
et al., 1997) and at sufficiently high concen-
trations, a number of VOCs are harmful to
plants (Cape, 2003). Visible injury to plants
in this study was not observed.
Although a diverse cross-section of plants
was capable of removing the VOCs tested
(Table 3), removal efficiency varied within a
single species as a result of differences in
the chemical properties of the individual
compounds (e.g., polarity, vapor pressure,
molecular weight, solubility, dissociation),
an effect previously noted by Yoo et al.
(2006). The fate of VOCs (e.g., accumulation,
Table 3. Removal efficiency based on leaf area of five representative volatile organic compounds (VOCs) [benzene, toluene, octane, trichloroethylene (TCE), and
a-pinene] of 28 indoor plants over 6 h during the day.
VOC removal efficiency (mgm
Benzene Toluene Octane TCE a-Pinene Total
Superior removal efficiency
Hemigraphis alternata 5.54 ± 0.29 9.63 ± 0.94 5.58 ± 0.68 11.08 ± 0.99 12.21 ± 1.61 44.04 ± 2.98
Hedera helix 3.63 ± 0.33 8.25 ± 0.64 5.10 ± 0.49 8.07 ± 0.77 13.28 ± 0.95 38.33 ± 3.17
Tradescantia pallida 3.86 ± 0.58 9.10 ± 1.17 2.76 ± 1.08 7.95 ± 1.20 10.45 ± 1.78 34.12 ± 5.52
Asparagus densiflorus 2.65 ± 0.24 7.44 ± 0.28 3.76 ± 0.64 6.69 ± 0.49 11.40 ± 0.78 31.94 ± 2.40
Hoya carnosa 2.21 ± 0.21 5.81 ± 0.67 3.80 ± 0.62 5.79 ± 0.75 8.48 ± 1.17 26.08 ± 3.40
Intermediate removal efficiency
Ficus benjamina 1.66 ± 0.07 5.06 ± 0.19 3.98 ± 0.19 4.74 ± 0.15 8.68 ± 0.40 24.13 ± 0.86
Polyscias fruticosa 1.53 ± 0.08 4.29 ± 0.04 3.43 ± 0.08 3.98 ± 0.16 8.30 ± 0.12 21.53 ± 0.42
Fittonia argyroneura 2.74 ± 0.28 5.09 ± 0.23 1.77 ± 0.25 6.15 ± 0.36 4.30 ± 0.39 20.05 ± 1.46
Sansevieria trifasciata 1.76 ± 0.48 4.97 ± 0.70 2.73 ± 0.50 4.61 ± 0.81 5.49 ± 1.31 19.56 ± 3.68
Guzmania sp. 1.46 ± 0.25 4.04 ± 0.56 2.07 ± 0.24 4.01 ± 0.49 6.43 ± 0.55 18.01 ± 1.77
Anthurium andreanum 1.31 ± 0.12 3.60 ± 0.37 2.45 ± 0.24 3.58 ± 0.35 5.85 ± 0.54 16.78 ± 1.59
Schefflera elegantissima
0.66 ± 0.19 4.94 ± 0.37 0.65 ± 0.46 3.87 ± 0.10 7.33 ± 0.36 17.46 ± 0.81
Poor removal efficiency
Peperomia clusiifolia 1.20 ± 0.10 2.75 ± 0.11 2.03 ± 0.01 2.40 ± 0.13 4.61 ± 0.14 12.98 ± 0.39
Chlorophytum comosum 0.75 ± 0.11 3.18 ± 0.14 1.70 ± 0.08 2.86 ± 0.13 4.17 ± 0.21 12.66 ± 0.54
Howea belmoreana 0.80 ± 0.10 2.95 ± 0.32 1.81 ± 0.28 2.71 ± 0.28 4.25 ± 0.67 12.52 ± 1.64
Spathiphyllum wallisii 0.75 ± 0.11 2.52 ± 0.13 1.55 ± 0.21 2.25 ± 0.19 4.09 ± 0.21 11.15 ± 0.83
Schefflera arboricola 0.44 ± 0.07 2.25 ± 0.23 1.75 ± 0.13 1.78 ± 0.17 4.18 ± 0.34 10.40 ± 0.84
Codiaeum variegatum 0.89 ± 0.04 2.28 ± 0.08 1.21 ± 0.03 2.34 ± 0.10 3.61 ± 0.09 10.33 ± 0.31
Calathea roseopicta 0.94 ± 0.18 2.70 ± 0.38 0.83 ± 0.14 2.32 ± 0.40 3.25 ± 0.58 10.04 ± 1.62
Aspidistra elatior 0.53 ± 0.08 2.22 ± 0.24 1.22 ± 0.17 2.00 ± 0.20 3.17 ± 0.40 9.14 ± 1.06
Maranta leuconeura 0.74 ± 0.19 2.67 ± 0.28 0.51 ± 0.19 2.35 ± 0.40 2.76 ± 0.67 9.03 ± 1.68
Dracaena fragrans 0.55 ± 0.01 2.01 ± 0.08 1.18 ± 0.08 1.90 ± 0.09 3.31 ± 0.19 8.95 ± 0.44
Ficus elastica 0.38 ± 0.07 2.29 ± 0.11 1.20 ± 0.13 1.75 ± 0.19 2.66 ± 0.12 8.28 ± 0.56
Dieffenbachia seguine
0.18 ± 0.04 2.03 ± 0.10 1.01 ± 0.10 1.83 ± 0.07 2.99 ± 0.20 8.05 ± 0.39
Philodendron scandens ssp. oxycardium 0.49 ± 0.08 1.80 ± 0.11 0.98 ± 0.06 1.66 ± 0.16 2.33 ± 0.12 7.26 ± 0.52
Syngonium podophyllum 0.03 ± 0.02 1.84 ± 0.15 0.76 ± 0.16 1.67 ± 0.22 2.75 ± 0.17 7.04 ± 0.70
Epipremnum aureum
0.44 ± 0.05 1.54 ± 0.15 0.86 ± 0.09 1.52 ± 0.16 2.34 ± 0.21 6.71 ± 0.64
Pelargonium graveolens 0.03 ± 0.02 1.67 ± 0.29 0.00 ± 0.00 1.48 ± 0.44 2.37 ± 0.26 5.55 ± 0.99
Data are means ± SEM (n = 3).
Syn. Dizygotheca elegantissima (Veitch) R.Vig. and Guillaumin.
Syn. Diffenbachia amoena Hort. and Bull.
Syn. Scindapsus aureus Engl. f.
adsorption, absorption, penetration, trans-
portation, metabolism), therefore, depends
on the chemical characteristics of each volatile
(Cape, 2003; Deinum et al., 1995; Korte
et al., 2000) and the physical and chemical
characteristics of the plants. Lipophilic com-
pounds more readily penetrate the cuticular
surface of plants, expediting uptake in contrast
to compounds that are largely restricted to
stomatal penetration (Deinum et al., 1995;
Schmitz et al., 2000). In addition, the ability
to metabolize VOCs varies widely among
species and volatiles (Beattie and Seibel,
2007; Cape, 2003; Deinum et al., 1995; Jen
et al., 1995). Therefore, a better understanding
of the basic physical and chemical factors
modulating the phytoremediation processes in
the most efficient species is needed.
Conclusions and Summary
Of the 28 species tested, H. alternata,H.
helix,H. carnosa, and A. densiflorus had
superior removal efficiencies for each of
the test compounds (i.e., benzene, toluene,
octane, TCE, and a-pinene). Likewise, T.
pallida had superior removal efficiencies for
four of the compounds (i.e., benzene, toluene,
TCE, and a-pinene). H. alternata, in partic-
ular, had the highest removal efficiency
for four of the compounds (benzene, toluene,
octane, and TCE). Indoor plants are known
to confer significant psychological and phys-
ical benefits to individuals living/working in
environments where they are present
[e.g., reduced stress, increased task perfor-
mance, and decreased symptoms of ill health
(Bringslimark et al., 2007; Son, 2004)]. Based
on this and other studies, plants also have the
potential to significantly improve the quality of
indoor air. Their increased use in both ‘‘green’
and traditional buildings could have a tremen-
dous positive impact on the ornamental indus-
try by increasing customer demand and volume
of sales. Further studies focusing on screening
additional plant species for superior VOC
removal efficiencies are warranted.
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Taman Nasional Gunung Gede Pangrango (TNGGP) merupakan salah satu kawasan konservasi in situ di Jawa Barat dan telah ditetapkan sebagai cagar biosfer sejak tahun 1976 karena nilai keanekaragaman hayati dan jasa lingkungannya bagi masyarakat sekitar. Prinsip konservasi yang berkembang saat ini tidak hanya melalui pengawetan jenis namun juga harus bisa mengakomodasi dan mengatur pemanfaatan secara lestari. Keterkaitan dengan posisi TNGGP sebagai kawasan cagar biosfer, diperlukan harmonisasi antara kepentingan konservasi kawasan dan biodiversitas yang terkandung di dalamnya dengan kesejahteraan masyarakat sekitarnya. Salah satu masalah yang di hadapi adalah semakin menyempitnya lahan pertanian garapan masyarakat sekitar kawasan karena semakin bertambahnya kegiatan alih fungsi lahan pertanian menjadi pemukiman atau penggunaan lainnya. Kondisi ini dikhawatirkan akan meningkatkan tingkat gangguan ke dalam kawasan. Oleh karena itu perlu dikembangkan strategi pemanfaatan sumberdaya hayati yang tidak mengganggu keberadaan populasi dan ekosistem di dalam kawasan konservasi, namun dapat membantu mengatasi permasalahan perekonomian masyarakat sekitar kawasan. Salah satu potensi sumberdaya hayati yang terdapat di TNGGP yang dapat dikembangkan adalah tumbuhan dari marga Hoya (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae). Tumbuhan Hoya saat ini semakin populer dimanfaatkan sebagai tanaman hias, di samping memiliki manfaat lainnya, yaitu sebagai sumber bahan obat, sekaligus penyerap polutan/racun dalam ruangan maupun bahan industri kosmetik. Secara ekologis, Hoya sebagai tumbuhan epifit turut menyumbang biomasa dan penyerapan karbon tanpa menambah penggunaan lahan, dan fungsi ekologis lainnya terkait asosiasinya dengan serangga peyerbuk maupun semut dan lainnya. Terdapat 10 jenis Hoya di TNGGP, dan jumlah jenis terbanyak terdapat di resort Bodogol. Jenis-jenis tersebut juga terdapat di jalur interpretasi Bodogol, sehingga kekayaan jenis jenis Hoya tersebut dapat dimanfaatkan secara lestari untuk dapat digunakan sebagai alternatif mata pencaharian penduduk sekitar antara lain melalui pengembangan ekowisata Hoya. Pengembangan ekowisata Hoya di TNGGP dapat difokuskan di lokasi Resort Bodogol dengan berbagai bentuk, misalnya dengan pembentukan Kampung Hoya di Desa Bodogol dan jalur wisata Hoya di Resort Bodogol. Selain itu wilayah resort Bodogol juga merupakan wilayah percontohan sebagai Pusat Pendidikan Konservasi Alam dan juga sebagai stasiun Penelitian yang tentunya pengembangan ekowisata Hoya di Bodogol akan selaras dengan fungsi tersebut. Adapun pengembangan Kampung wisata Hoya dapat melibatkan masyarakat setempat dan beberapa stakeholder terkait.
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Foliage plants of Hedera helix L. (english ivy), Spathiphyllum wallisii Regal (peace lily), Syngonium podophyllum Schott, (nephthytis), and Cissus rhombifolia Vahl. (grape ivy) were evaluated for their ability to remove two indoor volatile organic air pollutants, benzene and toluene. Removal was monitored when the aerial portion of plants was exposed singly to 1 μL·L-1 or to 0.5 μL·L-1 of each gas in a closed environment over 6-hour periods during the day and the night. Selected physiological processes were assessed before and immediately after treatment to determine the effect of the gases on the plants. The effectiveness of plants in the removal of air pollutant(s) varied with species, time of day, and whether the gases were present singly or as a mixture. When exposed to a single gas, S. wallisii, S. podophyllum, and H. helix displayed higher removal efficiencies (ng·m-3·h-1·cm-2 leaf area) of either gas than C. rhombifolia during the day. The efficiency of removal changed when both gases were present; H. helix was substantially more effective in the removal of either benzene or toluene than the other species, with the removal of toluene more than double that of benzene. When exposed singly, the removal of both compounds was generally higher during the day than during the night for all species; however, when present simultaneously, H. helix removal efficiency during the night was similar to the day indicating that stomatal diffusion for english ivy was not a major factor. The results indicated an interaction between gases in uptake by the plant, the presence of different avenues for uptake, and the response of a single gas was not necessarily indicative of the response when other gases are present. Changes in the rates of photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, and transpiration before and after exposure indicated that the volatiles adversely affected the plants and the effects were not consistent across species and gases. Deleterious effects of volatile pollutants on indoor plants may be critical in their efficacy in improving indoor air quality and warrant further study.
The environment is a complex system of interacting environmental media. Pollutants do not stay in the medium where they originate but move across environmental phase boundaries. The distribution of pollutants throughout the various environmental compartments (for example, air, water, soil, and biota) is the result of complex physical, chemical, and biological processes. The resulting environmental and human health risks depend upon the degree of exposure of human and ecological receptors, via multiple pathways, to these chemicals. Thus, environmental pollution is a multimedia problem. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), in particular, are very mobile in the environment. For example, VOCs which are initially present in the soil or water media can readily volatilize to the atmosphere where they can be transported over significant distances from the source location. In this paper an overview is presented of VOC sources, VOC ambient levels, the multimedia distribution of VOCs in the environment, and multipathway exposure to VOCs.
Caring for indoor air quality (IAQ) in so-called non-industrial areas has become increasingly common. Because of people's awareness of hazards related to the presence of different substances in indoor air. A review with 103 references concerning the presence of organic compounds in non-industrial indoor environments is discussed. The main sources of indoor air pollutants are presented. Topics discussed also include: total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) concepts in IAQ evaluation, concentrations of organic compounds in indoor and outdoor air, and the influence of outdoor air on indoor air quality expressed as ratios of indoor (I) to outdoor (O) concentrations (I/O).
Results are presented of an investigation into the capacity of the indoor potted-plant/growth medium microcosm to remove air-borne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which contaminate the indoor environment, using three plant species, Howea forsteriana (Becc. (Kentia palm), Spathiphyllum wallisii Schott. 'Petite' (Peace Lily) and Dracaena deremensis Engl. 'Janet Craig'. The selected VOCs were benzene and n-hexane, both common contaminants of indoor air. The findings provide the first comprehensive demonstration of the ability of the potted-plant system to act as an integrated biofilter in removing these contaminants. Under the test conditions used, it was found that the microorganisms of the growth medium were the "rapid-response" agents of VOC removal, the role of the plants apparently being mainly in sustaining the root microorganisms. The use of potted-plants as a sustainable biofiltration system to help improve indoor air quality can now be confidently promoted. The results are a first step towards developing varieties of plants and associated microflora with enhanced air-cleaning capacities, while continuing to make an important contribution to the aesthetics and psychological comfort of the indoor environment.
Laboratory experiments and quasi-experimental field studies have documented beneficial effects of indoor plants on outcomes such as psychophysiological stress, task performance, and symptoms of ill health. Such studies have taken an interest in the value of indoor plants in work settings, but they typically have not considered how the effects of plants might compare with effects of other workplace characteristics. The present study makes an initial attempt to situate the potential benefits of indoor plants in a broader workplace context. With cross-sectional survey data from 385 Norwegian office workers, we used hierarchical regression analyses to estimate the associations that plants and several often-studied workplace factors have with perceived stress, sick leave, and productivity. Other variables included in our models were gender, age, physical workplace factors (e.g., noise, temperature, lighting, air quality), and psychosocial workplace factors (demands, control, social support). After controlling for these variables, the number of indoor plants proximal to a worker's desk had small but statistically reliable associations with sick leave and productivity. Although small, such associations can have substantial practical significance given aggregation over the large number of office workers over time.
There is concern that potentially harmful pollutants may be emitted from office equipment. Although office equipment has been a focal point for governmental efforts to promote energy efficiency through programs such as the US EPA's Energy Star, little is known about the relationship between office equipment use and indoor air quality, and information on pollutant emissions is sparse. In this review, we summarize available information on emission rates and/or ambient concentrations of various pollutants that are related to office equipment use. Experimental methods used in the characterization of emissions are briefly described. The office equipment evaluated in this review includes computers (desktops and notebooks), printers (laser, ink-jet and all-in-one machines) and photocopy machines. Reported emission rates of the following pollutant groups are summarized: volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), ozone, particulate matter and several semivolatile organic chemicals (SVOCs). The latter include phthalate esters, brominated flame retardants, organophosphate flame retardants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We also review studies reporting airborne concentrations in indoor environments where office equipment was present and thought to be a significant contributor to the total pollutant burden (offices, residences, schools, electronics recycling plants). For certain pollutants, such as organophosphate flame retardants, the link between emission by office equipment and indoor air concentrations is relatively well established. However, indoor VOCs, ozone, PAHs and phthalate esters can originate from a variety of sources, and their source apportionment is less straightforward. This literature review identifies substances of toxicological significance, with the purpose of serving as a guide to evaluate their potential importance with respect to human exposures.
A model is described which can be used to study the processes involved in vapor phase uptake of organic compounds from the atmosphere by plants. In the model the transport pathways for the compounds and the uptake capacity of “model” leaves are described by resistances and partition coefficients estimated on the basis of a description of the leaves and the physical and chemical properties of the compounds. These leaves are incorporated into an existing multilayer atmospheric model. Example calculations were performed with an oak forest exposed to the three test compounds (2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid, HCB and phenol. Those calculations demonstrated that lipophilic compounds can diffuse efficiently through the cuticles into the leaves. Such compounds, however, cannot be transported to other parts of the plant and are accumulated in the leaves. After an initial rise of the leaf concentration, it will approach equilibrium with that in the atmosphere, and net transport from the atmosphere to the leaves will strongly be reduced. Hydrophilic compounds, however, can be readily transported to other parts of the plant and are not accumulated in the leaves. The transport to the vegetation will therefore maintain its initial rate. The model can thus provide a framework to estimate the importance of atmosphere-vegetation transport pathways for individual compounds.
During the last two decades there has been increasing concern within the scientific community over the effects of indoor air quality on health. Changes in building design devised to improve energy efficiency have meant that modern homes and offices are frequently more airtight than older structures. Furthermore, advances in construction technology have caused a much greater use of synthetic building materials. Whilst these improvements have led to more comfortable buildings with lower running costs, they also provide indoor environments in which contaminants are readily produced and may build up to much higher concentrations than are found outside. This article reviews our current understanding of the relationship between indoor air pollution and health. Indoor pollutants can emanate from a range of sources. The health impacts from indoor exposure to combustion products from heating, cooking, and the smoking of tobacco are examined. Also discussed are the symptoms associated with pollutants emitted from building materials. Of particular importance might be substances known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which arise from sources including paints, varnishes, solvents, and preservatives. Furthermore, if the structure of a building begins to deteriorate, exposure to asbestos may be an important risk factor for the chronic, respiratory disease mesothelioma. The health effects of inhaled biological particles can be significant, as a large variety of biological materials are present in indoor environments. Their role in inducing illness through immune mechanisms, infectious processes, and direct toxicity is considered. Outdoor sources can be the main contributors to indoor concentrations of some contaminants. Of particular significance is Radon, the radioactive gas that arises from outside, yet only presents a serious health risk when found inside buildings. Radon and its decay products are now recognised as important indoor pollutants, and their effects are explored. This review also considers the phenomenon that has become known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), where the occupants of certain affected buildings repeatedly describe a complex range of vague and often subjective health complaints. These are often attributed to poor air quality. However, many cases of SBS provide a valuable insight into the problems faced by investigators attempting to establish causality. We known much less about the health risks from indoor air pollution than, we do about those attribuable to the contamination of outdoor air. This imbalance must be redressed by the provision of adequate funding, and the development of a strong commitment to action within both the public and private sectors. It is clear that meeting the challenges and resolving the uncertainties associated with air quality problems in the indoor environment will be a considerable undertaking.
Poplar trees were found to be capable of taking up trichloroethylene (TCE) and degrading it to several known metabolic products:  trichloroethanol, trichloroacetic acid, and dichloracetic acid. Poplars were also shown to transpire TCE in measurable amounts. To eliminate the possibility that the degradation we observed was produced solely by rhizosphere organisms, axenic poplar tumor cell cultures were tested; the cultures produced the same intermediate metabolic products. When dosed with [14C]TCE, cell cultures also produced low levels of radiolabeled carbon dioxide and a labeled insoluble residue. These results show that significant TCE uptake and biotransformation occurs in poplar, which demonstrates the potential for the use of poplars for in situ remediation of TCE.
An experimental method is described to measure foliar uptake and translocation of volatile organic compounds in plants. A flow-through exposure chamber was designed to determine phytoxicity of volatile organic compounds; an air-tight chamber was used for exposure of whole plants to radiolabeled test compound. 14C-toluene uptake by soybean (Glycine max) foliage was measured as an example of the experimental approach. Leaf tissue concentrations of 14C-toluene were measured over a 55.5-hr exposure period during light and dark periods. Photosynthetic rate was not affected by chronic atmospheric exposure to 27 μmole cm−3 hr toluene. During a 55.5-hr exposure to 7.2 μmoles cm−3 hr 14C-toluene (1.94 Bq cm−3), deposition velocities were greatest in the light phases and showed a marked decrease during the dark phases of exposure, suggesting that stomatal uptake as well as surface deposition contributed to toluene uptake. 14C was translocated from foliage to the roots. These data indicate that deposition of volatile organic compounds to vegetation may constitute a mechanism leading to herbivore exposure to volatile hazardous organics at waste sites. The experimental method described can be used to measure foliar uptake and translocation of volatile organic compounds to whole plants under laboratory conditions.