Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 157, Issue 1–4, pp 193–207 | Cite as

Removal of Benzene by the Indoor Plant/Substrate Microcosm and Implications for Air Quality

  • Ralph L. Orwell
  • Ronald L. Wood
  • Jane Tarran
  • Fraser Torpy
  • Margaret D. Burchett
Article

Abstract

The quality of the indoor environment has become a major health consideration, since urban-dwellers spend 80-90% of their time indoors, where air pollution can be several times higher than outdoors. ‘Indoor’ potted-plants can remove air-borne contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), over 300 of which have been identified in indoor air. In this study a comparison was made of rates of removal of benzene, as model VOC, by seven potted-plant species/varieties. In static test-chambers, high air-borne doses of benzene were removed within 24 h, once the response had been stimulated (‘induced’) by an initial dose. Removal rates per pot ranged from 12-27 ppm d−1 (40 to 88 mg m−3 d−1) (2.5 to 5 times the Australian maximum allowable occupational level). Rates were maintained in light or dark, and rose about linearly with increased dose. Rate comparisons were also made on other plant parameters. Micro-organisms of the potting mix rhizosphere were shown to be the main agents of removal. These studies are the first demonstration of soil microbial VOC degradation from the gaseous phase. With some species the plant also made a measurable contribution to removal rates. The results are consistent with known, mutually supportive plant/soil-micro-organism interactions, and developments in microbially-based ‘biofilter reactors’ for cleaning VOC-contaminated air. The findings demonstrate the capacity of the potted-plant microcosm to contribute to cleaner indoor air, and lay the foundation for the development of the plant/substrate system as a complementary biofiltration system.

benzene biofiltration indoor air quality indoor plants micro-organisms VOC 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abbritti, G. and Muzi, G.: 1995, ‘Indoor air quality and health effects in office buildings’, in M. Maroni (ed.), Proceedings of Healthy Buildings ‘95, an International Conference on Healthy Buildings in Mild Climate, University of Milano and International Centre for Pesticide Safety, Milano, Italy, September, 1995, pp. 185-195.Google Scholar
  2. American Conference of Government and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH): 1994-1995, Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices, ACGIH, Cincinnati, USA.Google Scholar
  3. American Lung Association: 2001, ‘When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters’, Air Quality, www.lungusa.org/air/.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, T. A., Guthrie, E. A. and Walton, B. T.: 1993, ‘Bioremediation in the rhizosphere’, Environ. Sci. Technol. 27 (13), 2630-2636.Google Scholar
  5. Bibeau, L., Kiared, K., Brzezinski, R., Viel, G. and Heitz, M.: 2000, ‘Treatment of air polluted with xylenes using a biofilter reactor’, Water, Air and Soil Pollut. 118, 377-393.Google Scholar
  6. Brasche, S., Bullinger, M., Gebhardt, H., Herzog, V., Hornung, P., Kruppa, B., Meyer, E., Morfeld, M., Schwab, R. V., Mackensen, S., Winkens, A. and Bischof, W.: 1999, ‘Factors Determining Different Symptom Patterns of Sick Building Syndrome - Results From a Multivariate Analysis’, in Proceedings of Indoor Air ‘99. The 8th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Edinburgh, Scotland, August, 1999, pp. 402-407.Google Scholar
  7. Brigham, L. A., Nicoll, M. S. and Stephenson, M. B.: 1994, ‘Plant genes controlling the release of root exudates’, Biotechnol. Plant Protect. 4, 61-60.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, S. K.: 1997, ‘Volatile Organic Compounds in indoor air: sources and control’, Chemistry in Australia Jan/Feb, pp. 10-13.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, S. K., Sim, M. R., Abramson, M. J. and Gray, C. N.: 1994, ‘Concentrations of volatile organic compounds in indoor air - A review’, Indoor Air, 4, 123-134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burken, J. G. and Schnoor, J. L.: 1996, ‘Phytoremediation: plant uptake of atrazine and role of root exudates’, J. Environ. Eng. 122, 958-963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cape, J. N., Binnie, J., Mackie, N. and Skiba, U. M.: 2000, ‘Uptake of volatile organic compounds by grass’, in Proceedings of Third SETAC World Congress, Brighton, U.K. pp. 21-25.Google Scholar
  12. Carpenter, D. O.: 1998, ‘Human health effects of environmental pollutants: new insights’, Environ. Monit. Assess. 53, 245-258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carrer, P., Alcini, D., Cavallo, D., Visigalli, F., Bollini, D. and Maroni, M.: 1999, ‘Home andWorkplace Complaints and Symptoms in Office Workers and Correlation with Indoor Air Pollution’, in Proceedings of Indoor Air’99, The 8th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Edinburgh, Scotland, August, 1999, pp. 129-134.Google Scholar
  14. Collins, C. D., Bell, J. N. B. and Crews, C.: 2000, ‘Benzene accumulation in horticultural crops’, Chemosphere 40, 109-114.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Coward, M., Ross, D., Coward, S., Cayless, S. and Raw, G.: 1996, Pilot Study to Assess the Impact of Green Plants on NO 2 Levels in Homes, Building Research Establishment Note N154/96, Watford, UK.Google Scholar
  16. Darlington, A., Chan, M., Malloch, D., Pilger, C. and Dixon, M. A.: 2000, ‘The biofiltration of indoor air: implications for air quality’, Indoor Air 10, 39-46.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Giese, M., Bauer-Doranth, U., Langebartels, C. and Sandermann Jr., H.: 1994, ‘Detoxification of formaldehyde by the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosumL.) and by Soybean (Glycine maxL.) cell-suspension cultures’, Plant Physiol. 104, 1301-1309.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Howsam, M., Jones, K. C. and Ineson, P.: 2001, ‘PAHs associated with the leaves of three deciduous tree species II: uptake during a growing season’, Chemosphere 44, 155-164.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Komp, P. and McLachlan, M. S.: 2001, ‘Influence of temperature on the plant/air partitioning of polychlorinated biphenyls’, Environ. Sci. Technol. 31, 886-890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krzyanowski, M.: 1999, ‘Strategic Approaches to Indoor Air Policy Making’, in Proceedings of Indoor Air’ 99, The 8th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Edinburgh, Scotland, August, 1999, pp. 230-232.Google Scholar
  21. Lohr, V. I. and Pearson-Mims, C. H.: 1996, ‘Particulate matter accumulation on horizontal surfaces in interiors: influence of foliage plants’, Atmos. Environ. 30 (14), 2565-2568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marek, J., Paca, J. and Gerrard, A. M.: 2000, ‘Dynamic responses of biofilters to changes in the operating conditions in the process of removing toluene and xylene from air’, Acta Biotechnol. 20 (1), 17-29.Google Scholar
  23. Mohseni, M. and Allen, D. G.: 2000, ‘Biofiltration of hydrophilic and hydrophobic volatile organic compounds’, Chem. Eng. Sci. 55, 1545-1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (Australia) (NOHSC): 1991, Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment. AGPS, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  25. Nemergut, D. R., Wunch, K. G., Johnson, R. M. and Bennett, J. W.: 2000, ‘Benzo(a)pyrene removal by Marasmiellus troyanusin soil microcosms’, J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 25 (2), 116-119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Newman, L. A., Doty, S. L., Gery, K., Heilman, P. E., Muizieks, I., Shang, Q. T., Siemieniec, S. T., Strand, S. E., Wang, X., Wilson, A. M. and Gordon, M. P., 1998, ‘Phytoremediation of organic contaminants: a review of phytoremediation research at the University of Washington’, J. Soil Contam. 7 (4), 531-542.Google Scholar
  27. Omasa, K., Tobe, K. and Kondo, T.: 2002, ‘Absorption of organic and inorganic air pollutants by plants’, in K. Omasa, H. Saji, S. Youssefian and N. Kondo (eds), Air Pollution and Plant Biotechnology: Prospects for Phytomonitoring and Phytoremediation. Springer, Tokyo, Berlin, Ch. 8, pp. 155-178.Google Scholar
  28. Peck, A. M. and Hornbuckle, K. C.: 2002, ‘Use of a Climate-Controlled Chamber to Investigate the Fate of Gas-Phase Anthracene’, Water, Soil and Air Pollut. (‘OO', from website), 1-18.Google Scholar
  29. Pucci, O. H., Bak, M. A., Perressutti, S. R., Klein, I., Haertig, C., Alverez, H. M. and Wuensche, L.: 2000, ‘Influence of crude oil contamination on the bacterial community of semiarid soils of Patagonia (Argentina)’, Acta Biotechnol. 20 (2), 129-146.Google Scholar
  30. Radwan, S. S., Al-Awadhi, H., Sorkhoh, N. A. and El-Nemr, I. M.: 1998, ‘Rhizospheric hydrocarbonutilizing micro-organisms as potential contributors to phytoremediation for the oily Kuwaiti Desert’, Microbiol. Res. 153 (3), 247-251.Google Scholar
  31. Schwab, A. P., Al-Assi, A. A. and Banks, M. K.: 1998, ‘Adsorption of naphthalene onto plant roots’, J. Environ. Qual. 27 (1), 220-224.Google Scholar
  32. Tarran, J., Orwell, R., Burchett, M. D., Wood, R. and Torpy, F.: 2002, Quantification of the Capacity of Indoor Plants to Remove Volatile Organic Compounds Under Flow-through Conditions, Final Report to Horticulture Australia, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  33. Ugrekhelidze, D., Korte, F. and Kvesitadze, G.: 1997, ‘Uptake and transformation of benzene and toluene in plant tissues’, Ecotoxicol. Environ. Safety 37, 24-29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Weschler, C. J. and Shields, H. C.: 1997, ‘Potential reactions among indoor air pollutants’, Atmos. Environ. 31 (21), 3487-3495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wolverton, B. C., Johnson, A. and Bounds, K.: 1989, Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement, Final Report, September N.A.S.A. 1989 Stennis Space Centre MS.Google Scholar
  36. Wolverton, B. C. and Wolverton, J. D.: 1993, ‘Plants and soil micro-organisms-removal of formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia from the indoor environment’, J. Mississippi Acad. Sci. 38 (2), 11-15.Google Scholar
  37. Wolverton Environmental Services Inc.: 1991, Removal of Formaldehyde from Sealed Experimental Chambers, byAzalea, Poinsettia andDieffenbachia. Res. Rep. No. WES/100/01-91/005.Google Scholar
  38. Wood, R. A., Orwell, R. L., Burchett, M. D., Tarran, J. and Brown, S. K.: 2000, ‘Absorption of organic compounds in indoor air by commonly used indoor plants’, in: O. Seppanen, and J. Sateri (eds), Proceedings of Healthy Buildings 2000, 6th International Healthy Buildings Conference, August, 2000, Espoo, Finland, Vol. 2, 125-130.Google Scholar
  39. Wood, R. A., Orwell, R. L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F. and Burchett, M. D.: 2002, ‘Potted plant-growth media: interactions and capacities in removal of volatiles from indoor air’, J. Environ. Hort. Biotechnol. 77 (1), 120-129.Google Scholar
  40. Wood, R., Orwell, R., Tarran, J. and Burchett, M.: 2001, ‘Pot-Plants Really Do Clean Indoor Air’, The Nursery Papers, No. 2001/2, NIAA (Nursery Ind. Assocn. Aust.) Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  41. World Health Organisation 2000, The Right to Healthy Indoor Air - Report on a WHO Meeting, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, European HEALTH 21 Targets 10,13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph L. Orwell
    • 1
  • Ronald L. Wood
    • 1
  • Jane Tarran
    • 1
  • Fraser Torpy
    • 1
  • Margaret D. Burchett
    • 1
  1. 1.Plants and Environmental Quality Group, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of Technology, SydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations