from the world's big
House plants do not purify the air, study shows
Beautiful? Yes. Air purifiers? Not so fast.
- A new meta-analysis at Drexel University shows that house plants are not effective for purifying the air of toxins.
- A 1989 NASA report that claimed indoor plants are purifying was not conducted in realistic living conditions.
- Indoor plants have positive effects on our mental health, just not in regards to air quality.
There are a lot of strange ideas floating around, especially when it comes to purification. Juice cleanses are supposed to purify your body. (They don't.) Colonics are wonderful for clearing toxins from your intestines. (Highly questionable.) The "essence" of an ingredient is a healing agent. (Lol.) The recitation of a mantra purifies the soul. (Impossible to prove or disprove, as is the notion of a soul.)
One theory that's on solid footing is the notion that house plants purify the air. Or is it? Recently, a study appeared in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology that puts that long-held myth into question.
In this case there is precedent. Study authors Bryan E. Cummings and Michael S. Waring from the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University write that potted plants have previously been shown to remove airborne volatile organic compounds (VOC) in sealed chambers. Extrapolate by placing plants around your apartment or house and you end up with a natural air purification system.
This idea was first floated in a 1989 report included in the NASA Clean Air Study. Researchers tested plants, such as ficus and peace lilies, to see if they could cleanse the air of three VOCs: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. After a 24-hour period, the team noted that between 10-70 percent were removed. Plant stores found a new advertising slogan.
The problem, Cummings and Warring note, is that the chambers were a cubic meter in size. They were also sealed, unlike the buildings we inhabit. Scouring over 196 experiments in their meta-analysis, they conclude that even at their best, plants deliver less than 1 percent of toxin removal that an air purifier accomplishes.
Jill Valley-Orlando organizes houseplants from a recent shipment in the greenhouse at Broadway Gardens on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
This matters as humans spend, on average, 90 percent of their time indoors. On top of this, Cummings and Waring note that, "Much, though not all, of indoor pollution is sourced directly from the indoor environment itself." Air fresheners, paints, glues, printers, and permanent markers (among other manufactured products) add VOCs into the air we breathe. Poor indoor air quality has been implicated in a variety of health risks, including respiratory diseases and headaches.
All is not lost, however. As the authors note, "Indoor plants, by helping to create a more biophilic indoor environment, may have a positive impact on occupant well-being." However, they write that indoor plants have a tendency to raise humidity levels. Some even produce VOCs of their own.
Nothing is ever a clear-cut as it seems. This is not a call for removing house plants. They make a lovely addition to home and office environments. We just have to recognize that their appeal is aesthetic and emotional, not as agents in our long quest for purity.
- Every Breath You Take. The Hidden Danger of the Aeolian Plankton ... ›
- Plants have awareness and intelligence, argue scientists - Big Think ›
- Genetically-modified houseplant removes carcinogens from air - Big ... ›
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
New study shows white dwarf stars create an essential component of life.
- White dwarf stars create carbon atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, shows new study.
- Carbon is an essential component of life.
- White dwarfs make carbon in their hot insides before the stars die.
What Are White Dwarf Stars?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7b046e546ce994682b2553a8c978eb32"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/77a1KSxfaR0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Master negotiator Chris Voss breaks down how to get what you want during negotiations.
- Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains how forced empathy is a powerful negotiating tactic.
- The key is starting a sentence with "What" or "How," causing the other person to look at the situation through your eyes.
- What appears to signal weakness is turned into a strength when using this tactic.
3 Tips on Negotiations, with FBI Negotiator Chris Voss | Best of '16 | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b86d518e9f0c9f9d7a7c686e07798152"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-FLlBchonwM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This question forces a response, but—and this is key—the other person has to consider your side of the argument. They have to look at the situation from your perspective if they hope to offer a solution.</p><p>Offering a real-world example, Voss mentions coaching a high-end real estate agent. They were leasing an expensive home in the Hollywood Hills. The first time the negotiators asked the "how" question, the leasing agent relented on a number of terms. A little while later, they asked again. This time, the agent said, "If you want the house you're going to have to do it," signaling that the end of negotiations had been reached. </p><p>Voss says that "how" is not the only word that works. "What" is also a powerful entry into negotiations, such as "What am I supposed to do?" Again, you're forcing the other person to empathize. </p><p>This is a particularly tricky skill during a time when most conversations are online. Nuance is impossible without the immediacy of pantomimes and vocal fluctuations. Whataboutism is too easy an escape. </p>
Aikido Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969, standing, centre left), founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido, demonstrating his art with a follower, at the opening ceremony of the newly-opened aikido headquarters, Hombu Dojo, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 1967.
(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)<p>Online debates often amount to little more than frustrated individuals pulling out their hair. In his book, "Against Empathy," Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom writes that effective altruists are able to focus on what really matters in everyday life.</p><p>For example, he compares politics to sports. Rooting for your favorite team isn't based in rationality. If you're a Red Sox fan, Yankees stats don't matter. You just want to destroy them. This, he believes, is how most people treat politics. "They don't care about truth because, for them, it's not really about truth."</p><p>Bloom writes that if his son believed our ancestors rode dinosaurs, it would horrify him, but "I can't think of a view that matters less for everyday life." We have to strive for rationality when the stakes are high. When involved in real decision-making processes that will affect their life, people are better able to express ideas and make arguments, and are more receptive to opposing ideas. </p><p>Because we "become inured to problems that seem unrelenting," it's imperative to make the problem seem immediate. As Voss says, giving the other side "the illusion of control" is one way of accomplishing this, as it forces them to take action. When people feel out of control, negotiations are impossible. People dig their heels in and refuse to budge. </p><p>What seems to be weakness is actually a strength. To borrow another martial arts metaphor, negotiations are like aikido: using your opponent's force against them while also protecting them from injury. Forcing empathy is one way to accomplish this task. You may get more than you ask for without the other side ever realizing they surrendered anything.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>