Biofiltration of airborne VOCs with green wall systems - microbial and chemical dynamics
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CitationMikkonen, A. Li, T. Vesala, M. Saarenheimo, J. Ahonen, V. Kärenlampi, S. Blande, JD. Tiirola, M. Tervahauta, A. (2018). Biofiltration of airborne VOCs with green wall systems - microbial and chemical dynamics. INDOOR AIR, 28 (5) , 697-707. 10.1111/ina.12473.
Botanical air filtration is a promising technology for reducing indoor air contaminants, but the underlying mechanisms need better understanding. Here, we made a set of chamber fumigation experiments of up to 16 weeks of duration, to study the filtration efficiencies for seven volatile organic compounds (VOCs; decane, toluene, 2‐ethylhexanol, α‐pinene, octane, benzene, and xylene) and to monitor microbial dynamics in simulated green wall systems. Biofiltration functioned on sub‐ppm VOC levels without concentration‐dependence. Airflow through the growth medium was needed for efficient removal of chemically diverse VOCs, and the use of optimized commercial growth medium further improved the efficiency compared with soil and Leca granules. Experimental green wall simulations using these components were immediately effective, indicating that initial VOC removal was largely abiotic. Golden pothos plants had a small additional positive impact on VOC filtration and bacterial diversity in the green wall system. Proteobacteria dominated the microbiota of rhizosphere and irrigation water. Airborne VOCs shaped the microbial communities, enriching potential VOC‐utilizing bacteria (especially Nevskiaceae and Patulibacteraceae) in the irrigation water, where much of the VOC degradation capacity of the biofiltration systems resided. These results clearly show the benefits of active air circulation and optimized growth media in modern green wall systems.