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Question about biowalls: Where’s the data?

So here’s a question.

Every couple of weeks I see articles about the wonderful benefits of having plants indoors.  However, we’ve published in the past about how there’s little to no evidence that plants actually do anything meaningful in terms of indoor air quality (see here and here).

The new rage seems to be biowalls… whole vertical walls of plants indoors wherein “Micro-organisms that live on plant roots consume the noxious gases emitted by paint, furniture, household cleaners, personal care products, formaldehyde, VOC gases and others.” (quote from this recent article)

My questions is:  Where’s the data?  Can someone point out some peer-reviewed studies that have examined the effect of microbial communities in a biowall on indoor air quality? I can find studies that look at the overall effect of a biowall on certain compounds (e.g. here) but nothing pinning this on the microbes.

Photo by Renée Stephen, 2005.

 

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David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

One thought on “Question about biowalls: Where’s the data?

  1. One question I have is the ability of biowalls to harbor Legionella – aqueous built environments (cooling towers, water distribution systems, spas, etc) have had a major role in Legionella outbreaks. These biowalls often source their water from water distribution systems – so are they a potential source of Legionella, and if not, why not? They’re certainly a great way to generate indoor aerosols.

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