Ferns best for removal of indoor chemicals

June 24, 2011 at 7:30 PM

SUWON, South Korea, June 24 (UPI) -- Five classes of plants were tested on removing formaldehyde inside buildings and ferns were found the most effective, U.S. and South Korean researchers say.

A team of scientists from South Korea's Rural Development Administration and the University of Georgia found Osmunda japonica -- Japanese royal fern -- was the most effective of all 86 species, coming in at 50 times more effective than the least efficient species D. deremensis.

Formaldehyde, a major contaminant of indoor air -- originating from particle board, carpet, window coverings, paper products, tobacco smoke and other sources -- can contribute to allergies, asthma, headaches and ''sick building syndrome."

Phytoremediation, the use of green plants to remove pollutants or render them harmless, was assessed by exposing the plants to gaseous formaldehyde in airtight chambers constructed of inert materials and measuring the rate of removal.

The study, published in HortScience, found the Japanese royal fern, Spikemoss, Hare's-foot fern, Polypodium formosanum, Guava, Sweet Lavender, Pteris dispar, Spider fern, and Geranium were the most effective species tested.

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