Plant-based remediation of air pollution: A review

Yang Han, Jechan Lee, Gu Haiping, Ki Hyun Kim, Peng Wanxi, Neha Bhardwaj, Jong Min Oh, Richard J.C. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Humans face threats from air pollutants present in both indoor and outdoor environments. The emerging role of plants in remediating the atmospheric environment is now being actively investigated as a possible solution for this problem. Foliar surfaces of plants (e.g., the leaves of cotton) can absorb a variety of airborne pollutants (e.g., formaldehyde, benzene, trimethylamine, and xylene), thereby reducing their concentrations in indoor environments. Recently, theoretical and experimental studies have been conducted to offer better insights into the interactions between plants and the surrounding air. In our research, an overview on the role of plants in reducing air pollution (often referred to as phytoremediation) is provided based on a comprehensive literature survey. The major issues for plant-based research for the reduction of air pollution in both outdoor and indoor environments are discussed in depth along with future challenges. Analysis of the existing data confirms the effectiveness of phytoremediation in terms of the absorption and purification of pollutants (e.g., by the leaves and roots of plants and trees), while being controlled by different variables (e.g., pore characteristics and planting patterns). Although most lab-scale studies have shown that plants can effectively absorb pollutants, it is important for such studies to reflect the real-world conditions, especially with the influence of human activities. Under such conditions, pollutants are to be replenished continually while the plant surface area to ambient atmosphere volume ratio vastly decreases (e.g., relative to lab-based experiments). The replication of such experimental conditions is the key challenge in this field of research. This review is expected to offer valuable insights into the innate ability of various plants in removing diverse pollutants (such as formaldehyde, benzene, and particulate matter) under different environmental settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113860
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume301
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Air pollutant
  • Atmospheric environment
  • Phytoremediation
  • Plants

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