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Foliage plants for removing indoor air pollutants from energy-efficient homes


A sealed, Plexiglas chamber with temperature and humidity control and illuminated externally with wide spectrum grow lights was used to evaluate the ability of golden pothos (Scindapsus aureus), nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum), and spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum var.vittatum) to effect the removal of formaldehyde from contaminated air at initial concentrations of 15–37 ppm. Under the conditions of this study, the spider plant proved most efficient by sorbing and/ or effecting the removal of up to 2.27 fig formaldehyde per cm2 leaf surface area in 6 h of exposure. The immediate application of this new botanical air-purification system should be in energy-efficient homes that have a high risk of this organic concentrating in the air, due to outgassing of urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, particleboard, fabrics and various other synthetic materials.

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Correspondence to B. C. Wolverton.

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Wolverton, B.C., Mcdonald, R.C. & Watkins, E.A. Foliage plants for removing indoor air pollutants from energy-efficient homes. Econ Bot 38, 224–228 (1984).

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  • Economic Botany
  • Formaldehyde Concentration
  • Mobile Home
  • Leaf Surface Area
  • Foliage Plant