Plants Have the Potential to Ward Off the Common Cold

Plants go beyond merely purifying the air; they may shield us from the common cold, COVID, and other viral and bacterial ailments.

Maria Zavialova

Scientists from the University of Victoria in Canada have made a finding: household plants have a natural air purification system. It can effectively filter out various bacterial and viral infections, including the notorious COVID-19.

Plants Release Hydrogen Peroxide

Plants play a vital role in preserving air quality and supporting biogeochemical cycles, although many of the underlying mechanisms remain insufficiently explored. Previous studies have noted the spontaneous generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) through the condensation of water vapor. In a recent investigation, researchers from the University of Victoria in Canada have discovered the presence of H2O2 near indoor plants.

Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid substance commonly employed for surface disinfection and hair illumination. It is naturally produced by plants within minuscule water droplets, occurring in small quantities that pose no harm to humans.

The Research Methodology Employed for the Study

To conduct the study, the researchers opted for the African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha), a well-known and widely cultivated indoor plant. The soil surface of the pot was covered with foil and the plant was placed inside a water and airtight polyethylene chamber. For analysis purposes, they employed peroxide test strips, affixing them either directly onto the plant’s leaf surface or at precise distances (0, 10, 40 cm) from the leaf. Subsequently, the chamber was exposed to light of varying intensities to observe the effects.

рослини растения plants
Saintpaulia ionantha

The plant was placed in a well-lit chamber for a duration of 1.5 to 8 hours. Subsequently, the chamber was opened, and either a strip or condensate was collected for H2O2 analysis. Control conditions were implemented. They included: a chamber without any plants, a chamber with a plant shielded from light, and a chamber with a plant exposed to light but with its leaves removed.

How Plants Purify the Air

The experiments have revealed that plants effectively purify the air by safely releasing hydrogen peroxide.

Implications of H2O2 generated from plants include local effects, such as impacting indoor air quality, and global effects, such as potential for climate change mitigation. For indoor air quality, H2O2 is a strong oxidizing agent that denatures cellular components, suggesting that indoor plants could contribute to deactivation of pathogenic bacteria and viruses (such as airborne COVID-19 in homes and workplaces).

Study author

The global positive impact of indoor plants

These findings carry profound implications for air purification through the use of plants. They could be used not only within homes, offices, and other enclosed spaces but also on a larger scale. Indoor plants have the remarkable ability to mitigate the harmful impact of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. They include methane, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere.

Harnessing the natural production of hydrogen by plants could serve as a viable solution for indoor air filtration systems. Furthermore, the presence of H2O2 can significantly enhance air quality in urban areas, densely populated regions, and rural landscapes affected by devastating wildfires.

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