THIS PLANT CAN
CLEAN INDOOR AIR
Researchers have genetically modified a common indoor plant — pothos ivy — to remove pollutants inside the house including chloroform and benzene that have been linked to cancer, according to a new study. The modified plants express a protein, called P450
2E1 or 2E1, that transforms these compounds into molecules that the plants can then use to support their own growth.
“People have not really been talking about these hazardous organic compounds in homes, and I think that is because we could not do anything about them,” said Stuart Strand, professor at the University of Washington. The team tested how well their modified plants could remove the pollutants from air compared to normal pothos ivy. They put both types of plants in glass tubes and then added either benzene or chloroform gas into each tube. Over 11 days, they tracked how the concentration of each pollutant changed in each tube. Findings showed that for the unmodified plants, the concentration of either gas did not change over time. However, for the modified plants, the concentration of chloroform dropped by 82 per cent after three days, and it was almost undetectable by day six.