Potted plants might add a certain aesthetic value to your house, but they are likely to have adverse health effects, suggests a new study. Indoor plants
The research team headed by Stanley J. Kays of the University of Georgia‘s Department of Horticulture has shown that these indoor plants actually release volatile organic compounds into the environment.
During the study, they identified and measured the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by four popular indoor potted plantspeciesPeace Lily, Snake Plant, Weeping Fig and Areca Palm.
Samples of each plant were placed in glass containers with inlet ports connected to charcoal filters to supply purified air and outlet ports connected to traps where volatile emissions were measured.
A total of 23 volatile compounds were found in Peace Lily, 16 in Areca Palm, 13 in Weeping Fig, and 12 in Snake Plant. Some of the VOCs are ingredients in pesticides applied to several species during the production phase.
Other VOCs released did not come from the plant itself, but rather the micro-organisms living in the soil.
“Although micro-organisms in the media have been shown to be important in the removal of volatile air pollutants, they also release volatiles into the atmosphere”, said Kays.
Furthermore, 11 of the VOCs came from the plastic pots containing the plants. Several of these VOCs are known to negatively affect animals.
Interestingly, VOC emission rates were higher during the day than at night in all of the species, and all classes of emissions were higher in the day than at night.
The study concluded, while ornamental plants are known to remove certain VOCs, they also emit a variety of VOCs, some of which are known to be biologically active.
“The longevity of these compounds has not been adequately studied, and the impact of these compounds on humans is unknown.”
During the study, equal amounts of formaldehyde were pumped into containers holding each type of plant in three configurations: whole, roots-only with the leafy portion cut off, and aerial-only, with the below-ground portion sealed off, leaving the stem and leaves exposed.
The results showed the combined total of aerial-only and roots-only portions was similar to the amount removed by whole plants. Complete plants removed approximately 80 percent of the formaldehyde within 4 hours.
Control chambers pumped with the same amount of formaldehyde, but not containing any plant parts, decreased by 7.3 percent during the day and 6.9 percent overnight within 5 hours. As the length of exposure increased, the amount of absorption decreased, which appeared to be due to the reduced concentration of the gas.
Aerial parts of reduced more formaldehyde during the day than at night. This suggests the role played by stomata, tiny slits on the surface of the leaves that are only open during the day.
The portion of formaldehyde that was reduced during the night was most likely absorbed through a thin film on the plant’s surface known as the cuticle. Root zones of ficus removed similar amounts between night and day. However, japonica root zones removed more formaldehyde at night.
Researchers consider micro-organisms living among the soil and root system to be a major contributor to the reduction. Japonica was planted in larger pots than the ficus, which may account for the lower night reduction rate of the latter.
Household consumer products injure 33.1 million people in the United States every year. These incidents cost $800 billion in related expenses from death, injury or property damages. And many scientists are starting to believe that, in particular, the chemicals found in a wide variety of the goods you use every day may be more toxic than previously thought. Here are 10 of the most common products that may be hazardous to your health:
Since moths chew holes through clothing and other textiles, people pack away these stinky repellents to kill them. But studies on one active ingredient in some repellents, paradichlorobenzene, found that it can cause cancer in animals. Other types of moth balls use naphthalene, which after prolonged exposure can damage or destroy red blood cells, and which can also stimulate nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Ninety percent of households in the United States use some form of pesticide, a broad term that encompasses a variety of chemical formulas that kill everything from tiny microorganisms up to rodents. In 2006, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received nearly 46,000 calls regarding children under 5 years old who had been exposed to potentially toxic levels of pesticides.
This faux wood takes bits and pieces of logs and wood leftovers and combines them together. Pressed wood products include paneling, particle board, fiberboard and insulation, all of which were particularly popular for home construction in the 1970’s. However, the glue that holds the wood particles in place may use urea-formaldehyde as a resin. The U.S. EPA estimates that this is the largest source of formaldehyde emissions indoors. Formaldehyde exposure can set off watery eyes, burning eyes and throat, difficulty breathing and asthma attacks. Scientists also know that it can cause cancer in animals. The risk is greater with older pressed wood products, since newer ones are better regulated.
Indoor carpeting has recently come under greater scrutiny because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with new carpet installation. The glue and dyes used with carpeting are known to emit VOCs, which can be harmful to your health in high concentrations. However, the initial VOC emissions will often subside after the first few days following.
A 2007 study found that some laser printers give off ultra fine particles that can cause serious health problems. Another study confirmed that laser and ink-jet printers can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ozone particulates. All of these have been linked with heart and lung disease.
In 1991, the U.S. government declared lead to be the greatest environmental threat to children. Even low concentrations can cause problems with your central nervous system, brain, blood cells and kidneys. It’s particularly threatening for fetuses, babies and children, because of potential developmental disorders. Many houses built before 1978 contain lead paint. Once the paint begins to peel away will, it release the harmful lead particles that you can inhale.
Air fresheners and cleaning solutions, when used excessively or in a small, unventilated area, can release toxic levels of pollutants. This comes from two main chemicals called ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes. While the EPA regards the ethers as toxic by themselves, the non-toxic terpenes can react with ozone in the air to form a poisonous combination. Air fresheners in particular are linked to many volatile organic compounds, such as nitrogen dioxide, and some fresheners also contain paradichlorobenzene, the same chemical emitted by mothballs.
Canada has taken the first steps to outlaw the sale of baby bottles made from polycarbonate plastics, which are the most common type on the market. It has done so because the plastics are made with a chemical called bisphenol-a (BPA). BPA has a structure very similar to estrogen and for that reason is referred to as a “hormone disruptor.” Hormone disruptors can interfere with the natural human hormones, especially for young children.
Commonly used in mattresses, upholstery, television and computer casings and circuit boards, flame retardants use polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs for short. Two forms of PBDEs were phased out of use in manufacturing in the United States in 2004 because of related health threats, but the products containing them linger on. Studies have linked PBDEs to learning and memory problems, lowered sperm counts and poor thyroid functioning in rats and mice. Other animal studies have indicated that PBDEs could be carcinogenic in humans, although that has not yet been confirmed.
Phthalates, also called plasticizers, go into many products including hair spray, shampoos, fragrances, and deodorants. Phthalates bind the color and fragrance in cosmetic products, and are also used to increase the durability and flexibility of plastics. Like BPA, these hormone-like chemicals are linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animals. Because of these findings, California and Washington state have banned the use of phthalates in toys for younger children.
There is no question that dogs can provide companionship, protection, and other services. But could there be another use for our canine friends? Some anecdotal evidence and a sprinkling of scientific studies suggest that dogs can detect seizures and cancers (like skin melanoma and prostate cancer). Though the research is still in its infancy, preliminary results have already provided insight on developing new medical technologies…………..CLICK & SEE
Though many anecdotal stories suggest dogs can alert their owners before a seizure, there has been little research on how dogs might detect seizures before they happen. Some theorize that the dogs may smell a chemical or other scent that is released just prior to a seizure. Others believe the dog‘s attachment to his or her owner helps in detecting subtle scent and behavioral changes before a seizure. Only a very small percentage of these service dogs are currently able to reliably warn their owners before a seizure. Some researchers have studied whether these skills could be taught………….click & see
Researchers in the UK reported in the January 1999 and January 2001 issues of Seizure on dogs they had trained that could detect seizures 15 to 45 minutes prior to the episodes beginning. In addition, the researchers found that the people using these dogs actually reported fewer seizures. Though these results are promising, in most cases it still seems that this skill is inherent in a dog’s personality, rather than something that can be taught. Future research may reveal what these dogs are detecting and how this information can be applied in the hospital setting.
There is no doubt that trained seizure alert dogs can alert help, help prevent injury and watch over someone when they are having a seizure. However, the Epilepsy Foundation cautions people against rushing into spending thousands of dollars for a dog said to have skills of prior seizure detection, at least until the research supports a specific training regimen.
There has also been anecdotal evidence of dogs being able to sniff out cancer and warn their owners. A brief report in a 1989 issue of the Lancet describes how one dog discovered a cancerous skin tumor on her owner’s leg. Researchers have been able to teach bomb-sniffing dogs how to detect cancer using similar training techniques. Other research supports the theory that dogs have the ability to smell cancer. But the real promise may be in learning how dogs can do this and possibly developing medical technology to do the same..…click & see
The Future of Dogs as Doctors….click & see
Dogs may never be used in the physician’s office. However, studying how animals can detect disease conditions in humans could lead to future advancements in medicine and medical technology. For instance, by learning about the ways dogs smell a seizure or cancer cells, we can develop technologies to detect those same molecules. Medical sniffing machines have already been developed and are providing insight into the smells of disease for disease detection. RESOURCES: