Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant “pothos ivy” to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it. The pothos ivy was engineered to express a protein called 2E1 which enables the breakdown of benzene and chloroform into components the plant can use for its own needs. In study published on December 19, 2018 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers Long Zhang, Ryan Routsong, and Stuart E. Strand described the process they used to modify the pothos ivy plant.
In our bodies, 2E1 turns benzene into a chemical called phenol and chloroform into carbon dioxide and chloride ions. Since exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, this scientific accomplishment is good news for human health.
The team concluded that research about plant impact on indoor air quality is scarce and that new studies should consider how plants might work along with computerized tools for controlling heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to improve energy consumption as well as air quality.
Air pollution takes a year off the average global life expectancy according to study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. PM2.5 is a particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns. PM2.5 can enter deep into the lungs, and studies have shown that exposure to PM2.5 is associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and cancer.
Testing to see if something can cause cancer is often difficult. Thus, plants have been used in studies to assess the long-term damage caused by accumulated air pollution worldwide. The results of that study were clear. These chemicals are called obesogens. Some may cause cancer only after prolonged, high levels of exposure.
“The fact that fine particle air pollution is a major global killer is already well-known” , said Joshua Apte of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
Substances labeled as carcinogens may have different levels of cancer-causing potential. The US Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) maintains the Integrated Risk Information System ( IRIS ), an electronic database that contains information on human health effects from exposure to certain substances in the environment. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U. S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. A Cornell University study found that every single home they studied in different areas of upstate New York had detectable pesticide residues in the homes.
Studies have found a link between so-called particle pollution and renal function. Matter air pollution increased, so did the risk of poorer kidney function, kidney disease and kidney failure. The effects of these chemicals is yet to be determined; however, many could be potentially detrimental to aquatic lifeforms, human health, and the overall food chain as a whole. Whatever those mysterious chemicals might be, there’s no doubt that they can be lethal for the people working with them: Much is still unknown about the health effects of fracking. Photosynthesis is carried on only when plant tissues containing chlorophyll ( green pigment ) are exposed to light.
The World Health Organization panel, made up of 26 scientists from 10 countries, reviewed the latest literature and concluded that formaldehyde posed a greater hazard than previously thought. The study also showed that the effects of air pollution on low birth weight were heightened when combined with stress. While the research team saw evidence of stronger adverse developmental effects of prenatal chemical exposures in higher-stressed versus lower-stressed pregnant women, the specific results of these studies varied, making it difficult to define the precise magnitude of the effect.
While the evidence on the combined effects of chemicals and stress is new and emerging, it is clearly suggestive of an important question of social justice, said co-author Rachel Morello-Frosch, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.
Last year the chemicals turned up in low levels at a city well nearly a mile away. Dr. Maria Neira, the leader of public health efforts at WHO, however, reported that some of the world’s megacities such as Beijing, Delhi, and Jakarta exceed guideline levels for air quality by more than five times. Fluorinated compounds have been linked to serious health problems. According to the same sources, radon reportedly causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. This would heart disease, diabetes, allergies and asthma, but can also work in hand.