Efficiency and mechanism of formaldehyde removal from air by two wild plants; Plantago asiatica L. and Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz.

  • Suya Zhao
  • Yuhong SuEmail author
  • Hanxiao Liang
Research Article


Indoor potted plants played an important role in the removal of air-borne VOCs. According to the difference between plant fresh extracts and boiled extracts on breakdown ability to the added formaldehyde, a simple quantitative evaluation method was used to identify the mechanisms of formaldehyde removal from the air by wild Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz. and Plantago asiatica L.. After shoots exposure to formaldehyde (1.28 mg/m3 in the air) for 24 h, the formaldehyde removal rates of P. asiatica and T. mongolicum were 73.18 and 121.20 mg/h/kg FW (fresh weight), respectively. Formaldehyde can be transported from the air to the rhizosphere solution by plants, and the maximum rates of transmission by T. mongolicum and P. asiatica were 23.73 and 83.08 mg/h/kg FW, respectively. Although plant metabolism was responsible for formaldehyde loss in the air-plant-solution system, and the metabolic activity depended on the enzymatic and redox reactions in the plants, P. asiatica and T. mongolicum are still good candidate species for developing phyto-microbial technologies. The redox reaction was the main mechanism used by P. asiatica shoots to dissipate formaldehyde, while the enzymatic reaction was the main mechanism used by T. mongolicum. The higher oxidative potential and lower defensive enzyme activity in P. asiatica shoots led to its higher formaldehyde removal rate compared to T. mongolicum. Meanwhile, the stronger redox reaction ability in the T. mongolicum roots was partly responsible for its lower formaldehyde transmission rate. The results show two plants have strong tolerance to formaldehyde in the air and good formaldehyde removal ability.


Formaldehyde Plant Removal efficiency Degradation mechanism Enzyme Phytoremediation 



This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21667028, 41361072, U1403381).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


  1. 1.
    Baldasano JM, Gonçalves M, Soret A, Jiménez-Guerrero P. Air pollution impacts of speed limitation measures in large cities: the need for improving traffic data in a metropolitan area. Atmos Environ. 2010;44(25):2997–06.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hofman J, Bartholomeus H, Calders K, Wittenberghe SV, Wuyts K, Samson R. On the relation between tree crown morphology and particulate matter deposition on urban tree leaves: a ground-based lidar approach. Atmos Environ. 2014;99:130–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baciak M, Warmiński K, Bęś A. The effect of selected gaseous air pollutants on woody plants. For Res Pap. 2015;76(4):401–9.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chauhan AJ, Johnston SL. Air pollution and infection in respiratory illness. Br Med Bull. 2003;68(1):95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cohen AJ, Ross Anderson H, Ostro B, Pandey KD, Krzyzanowski M, Künzli N, et al. The global burden of disease due to outdoor air pollution. J Toxicol Environ Health. 2005;68(13–14):1301–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Huang Y, H SS, Lu Y, Niu R, Xu L, Cao J, et al. Removal of indoor volatile organic compounds via photocatalytic oxidation: a short review and prospect. Molecules. 2016;21(1):56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Raaschounielsen O, Andersen ZJ, Jensen SS, Ketzel M, Sørensen M, Hansen J, et al. Traffic air pollution and mortality from cardiovascular disease and all causes: a danish cohort study. Environ Health. 2012;11(1):60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    World Health Organization (WHO). 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution. 2014. Accessed 28 Apr 2014.
  9. 9.
    Kim KJ, Ahn HG. The effect of pore structure of zeolite on the adsorption of VOCs and their desorption properties by microwave heating. Microporous Mesoporous Mater. 2012;152:78–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ren HJ, Koshy P, Chen WF, Qi S, Sorrell CC. Photocatalytic materials and technologies for air purification. J Hazard Mater. 2017;325:340–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zhang H, Pennisi SV, Kays SJ, Habteselassie MY. Isolation and identification of toluene-metabolizing bacteria from rhizospheres of two indoor plants. Water Air Soil Pollut. 2013;224:1648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hasunuma H, Ishimaru Y, Yoda Y, Shima M. Decline of ambient air pollution levels due to measures to control automobile emissions and effects on the prevalence of respiratory and allergic disorders among children in Japan. Environ Res. 2014;131:111–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sriprapat W, Boraphech P, Thiravetyan P. Factors affecting xylene-contaminated air removal by the ornamental plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 2014;21(4):2603–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mosaddegh MH, Jafarian A, Ghasemi A, Mosaddegh A. Phytoremediation of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene contaminated air by D. deremensis and O. microdasys plants. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2014;12:39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Schmitz H, Hilgers U, Weidner M. Assimilation and metabolism of formaldehyde by leaves appear unlikely to be of value for indoor air purification. New Phytol. 2000;147(2):307–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fismes J, Perrin-Ganier C, Empereur-Bissonnet P, Morel JL. Soil-to-root transfer and translocation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by vegetables grown on industrial contaminated soils. J Environ Qual. 2002;31(5):1649–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sriprapat W, Thiravetyan P. Efficacy of ornamental plants for benzene removal from contaminated air and water: effect of plant associated bacteria. Int Biodeterior Biodegrad. 2016;113:262–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wolverton BC, Wolverton JD. Plants and soil microorganism: removal of formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia from the indoor environment. J Miss Acad Sci. 1993;38:11–5.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Barrutia O, Epelde L, Garcia-Plazaola JI, Garbisu C, Becerril JM. Phytoextraction potential of two Rumex acetosa L. accessions collected from metalliferous and non-metalliferous sites: effect of fertilization. Chemosphere. 2009;74:259–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Susarla S, Medina VF, Mccutcheon SC. Phytoremediation: an ecological solution to organic chemical contamination. Ecol Eng. 2002;18(5):647–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dela Cruz M, Müller R, Svensmark B, Pedersen JS, Christensen JH. Assessment of volatile organic compound removal by indoor plants–a novel experimental setup. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 2014;21(13):7838–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Treesubsuntorn C, Thiravetyan P. Removal of benzene from indoor air by dracaena sanderiana: effect of wax and stomata. Atmos Environ. 2012;57:317–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Clausen G, Beko G, Corsi RL, Gunnarsen L, Nazaroff WW, Olesen BW, et al. Reflections on the state of research: indoor environmental quality. Indoor Air. 2011;21(3):219–30.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Xiong JY, Zhang PP, Huang SD,Zhang YP. Comprehensive influence of environmental factors on the emission rate of formaldehyde and VOCs in building materials: correlation development and exposure assessment. Environ Res. 2016;151:734–41.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    World Health Organization. WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: selected pollutants. Geneva: WHO; 2010.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Xu ZJ, Wang L, Hou HP. Formaldehyde removal by potted plant-soil systems. J Hazard Mater. 2011;192(1):314–8.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Nian HJ, Meng QC, Zhang W, Chen LM. Overexpression of the formaldehyde dehydrogenase gene from Brevibacillus brevisto enhance formaldehyde tolerance and detoxification of tobacco. Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2013;169(1):170–80.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Su YH, Liang YC. Foliar uptake and translocation of formaldehyde with bracket plants (Chlorophytum comosum). J Hazard Mater. 2015;291:120–8.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Qi JS, Wang JL, Gong ZZ, Zhou JM. Apoplastic ROS signaling in plant immunity. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2017;38:92–100.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    LingHu YW, Li B, Li SF, Zhang Y, Liu LC. Monitoring,purification and response of three indoor ornamental plants on formaldehyde pollution. Acta Botan Boreali-Occiden Sin. 2011;31(4):776–82 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Xie SY, Yang XY, Ding ZG, Li MG, Zhao JY. Chemical constitutents and pharmacological effects of Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz. Nat Prod Res Dev. 2012;12:14151 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Yao XH. Medicinal efficacy of plantain and measuring method of valid composition. J Anhui Agric Sci. 2007;4:1053–4 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Chatterjee K, Dollimore D, Alexander K. A new application for the Antoine equation in formulation development. Int J Pharm. 2001;213:31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Zhang S, Lu S, Xu X, Korpelainen H, Li CY. Changes in antioxidant enzyme activities and isozyme profiles in leaves of male and female populus cathayana infected with Melampsora larici-populina. Tree Physiol. 2010;30(1):116–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Guieysse B, Hort C, Platel V, Munoz R, Ondarts M, Revah S. Biological treatment of indoor air for VOC removal: potential and challenges. Biotechnol Adv. 2008;26(5):398–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Zhang JZ, Li XY, Li Z, Wang LH, Zhou Q, Huang XH. Analysis of effects of a new environmental pollutant, bisphenola, on antioxidant systems in soybean roots at different growth stages. Sci Rep. 2016;6:2378.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Morison JIL, Lawson T. Does lateral gas diffusion in leaves matter? Plant Cell Environ. 2007;30(9):1072–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringXinjiang UniversityUrumqiPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations