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Phytoremediation

Phytoremediation is a way to mitigate environment pollutions, such as in air, water and soil pollution with the help of plants with their associated microorganisms. This concept is applied to treat pollutants in the environment and gaining good results.

It is observed that Indoor air is rich in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Due to many indoor VOCs and complex mixtures of these numerous VOCs there is a threat to human health. Many of the VOCs are carcinogenic.  Different filtration technologies exist to fight VOCs, but they are often expensive and they may produce harmful by-products. Phytoremediation or technology using plants for remediation of harmful contaminants in the air provides a promising solution to effective removal pollutants from the indoor air. The phytoremediation system is based on two functional components. Firstly, an organic growing media having bacteria helping the process of phytoremediation, along with activated carbon assisting in water retention and VOC removal. This growing media and plants essentially acts as a bio-filter through which ambient indoor air is circulated. This helps pollutant absorption popular indoor plants that are easy to maintain are selected for phytoremediation.

Formaldehyde, benzene to luene and xylene are commonly found in indoors as they are common compound in textile and plastic manufacture, paint industries, printed and painted materials, perfumes, room sprays, smoke from mosquito coils and liquid mosquito repellent and heavy smelling incense stick. Formaldehyde, a ubiquitous air pollutant, is so harmful that it is classified as a mutagen and carcinogen. Low levels of formaldehyde in air could be removed by plant leaves alone, while higher concentrations of the toxic chemical can be filtered by activated carbon firstly and the plant roots and associated microorganisms degrade and assimilate remained chemicals. Benzene and Toluene as members of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds, VOCs), benzene is carcinogenic while toluene is a neurotoxic chemical . Benzene and toluene have been reported to be removed from air and be assimilated by plants.

Workspaces with green, low light plants and plant interactions may change human behavior, improve productivity and the overall well-being resulting in healthier work and living areas. The temperature around the planting environment lowers due to evapotranspiration and this can be utilized for air cooling and humidity control. Also, indoor greenery can be used to reduce sound levels as a passive acoustic insulation system. Phytoremediation is emerging technology to provide beneficial effects on improvement of indoor comfort. Several studies have indicated that green systems may improve indoor air quality and that they have different pathways for pollutant removal of volatile organic compounds. The plant root zone in potted plants may be an effective area for removing volatile organic compounds under controlled conditions.

Phytoremediation or using plants to clean indoor air in working environments brings nature inside to create inviting spaces that may reduce stress, increase productivity and overall satisfaction and happiness in people’s lives.

Phytoremediation or the use of indoor greenery to reduce indoor pollutants offers several benefits such as producing oxygen through photosynthesis, generating humidity and providing an aesthetical pleasant environment to work and live as well as visual performance to indoor environment and stress free life.

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