Indoor plants are the hallmark of beauty as they hold various medicinal benefits. Additionally, they act as a free air purifier. The construction material used for building houses often contains dangerous elements. Formaldehyde is a toxic gas commonly found in building materials. An increased level of formaldehyde is fatal for health.
Researchers have revealed the usefulness of indoor plants in reducing formaldehyde. A study was conducted on two evergreen shrubs i.e. Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig) and Fatsia japonica (Fatsi or Japanese Aralia). It suggested that these plants have the ability to reduce formaldehyde level in air. A number of experiments were conducted on these indoor plants. Both of them were placed in containers and three different configurations were used as follows:
- Whole Plant.
- Roots only: the leafy portion was cut off.
- Aerial only: the underground portion was sealed off. Only stem and leaves were exposed to air.
After that, equal amount of formaldehyde was pumped into containers. The results showed that the amount of formaldehyde reduced by aerial-only and roots-only portions was equivalent to the amount removed by entire shrubbery. It was also noticed that approximately 80 percent of formaldehyde was removed by the plants within 4 hours.
The control chamber contained no plants in it. Same amount of formaldehyde was then pumped into the control chambers. It was found that the formaldehyde level was decreased by 7.3% in day time and 6.9% overnight within 5 hours. The absorption level of formaldehyde was decreased in the absence of these indoor plants. Therefore, the results proved that Ficus benjamina and Fatsia japonica play an important role in the absorption of formaldehyde gas.
It was also found that the aerial parts of these plants absorb more formaldehyde during day time as compared to the night. Stomata are small pores on the surface of leaves. The stomata remain open during the day and absorb formaldehyde. Cuticle is a thin film present on the surface of the plants. It also plays an important role in the absorption of formaldehyde. Researchers believe that some beneficial microorganisms are present in the root system of Ficus benjamina and Fatsia japonica. These microorganisms act as a major contributor in the absorption of formaldehyde. However, the root zones of the japonica absorb more formaldehyde during night.