Houseplants help “detoxify cancer-causing toxins” and may help you live longer
In a groundbreaking new study, plants have been found to remove cancer-causing pollutants from indoor air, and absorb toxins such as benzene that are normally emitted through burning fuels. Keeping leafy plants in the home has been linked to lower stress levels, which helps reduce allergy symptoms — and now evidence suggests they may help you live longer.
Results published Thursday showed that a mixture of plants removed 97 percent of the most toxic compounds from the surrounding air in just eight hours. Scientists have also discovered that the more toxic the air, the faster the plants work at removing the compounds.
The research, which was led by Assistant Professor Fraser Turby of the University of Technology Sydney and Ambius Landscapes, shows the critical role plants play in improving air quality.
Previous studies have shown that indoor plants can remove a wide range of indoor air pollutants. But this is the first study into the plants’ ability to clean up benzene fumes – one of the largest sources of toxic compounds in buildings around the world.
Inhaling gasoline vapors can lead to lung irritation and headaches. Nausea, and it has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, asthma, and other chronic diseases from long-term exposure—contributing to lower life expectancy.
Poor indoor air quality causes 6.7 million premature deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, so adopting new strategies to improve air quality is critical.
Associate Professor Turby said the results of the study, which are based on measurements from an airtight chamber, far exceeded their expectations when it came to removing benzene pollutants from the air.
“This is the first time plants have been tested for their ability to remove compounds associated with benzene, and the results are amazing,” he said.
“Not only can plants remove the majority of pollutants from the air in a matter of hours, but they remove the most harmful benzene-related pollutants from the air very efficiently. For example, benzene, a known carcinogen, is digested at a faster rate than less harmful substances, such as alcohols.
“We also found that the higher the concentration of toxins in the air, the faster and more effective plants became at removing toxins, which shows that plants adapt to the conditions in which they grow,” added Professor Turby.
If you’re looking for houseplant inspiration, they can help reduce hay fever symptoms and brighten up homes. Anyone who also struggles with damp conditions in the home should check out these 4 plants that eliminate mold and condensation.
Don’t miss the latest news from across Scotland and beyond – sign up for our newsletter here.