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plant prevention

A plant-filled home could help prevent infections, study finds

A plant-filled home could actually help protect you from disease, including COVID-19, a new study has found. 

"This is a very good proof-of-concept study on whether plants can help disinfect air," said Kristian Dubrawski, one of the study's co-authors. "Indoor plants could contribute to deactivation of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, such as airborne COVID-19 in homes and workplaces."

Plants produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) during photosynthesis which "contributes to atmospheric cleansing," per the report. The chemical is often used in disinfectants and when bleaching hair, writes British newspaper i. 

Plants also have a large "potential for climate change mitigation," the study notes. "H2O2 produced in vegetated areas may directly ... or indirectly" help control "the persistence of methane, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and some ozone-depleting gases," which worsen global warming. "Hydrogen production by plants may have implications in indoor air quality (such as hospitals); high-density regions (such as megacities) and rural regions impacted by forest fires," the study explains.

The amount of hydrogen peroxide produced varied by species and type of plant, likely due to differing rates of photosynthesis and transpiration, which is "the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from leaves, stems, and flowers," i writes. "If evidence like this grows, then low-cost behavior, like buying more plants, would likely be something that people would much more be willing to do than some other things, like mask-wearing or social distancing," remarked Simon Williams of Swansea University.

"The challenge will be in communicating to the public that things like having more indoor plants can help indoor air quality and reduce the spread of airborne viruses," he said.