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Propylene Glycol Vapor Contamination in Controlled Environment Growth Chambers: Toxicity to Corn and Soybean Plants

Niu, Genhua, McConnell, Laura, Reddy, Vangimalla R.
Journal of environmental science and health 2005 v.40 no.3 pp. 443
phytotoxicity, air pollution, environmental exposure, corn, Zea mays, soybeans, Glycine max, propylene glycol, vapors, chlorosis, leaves, necrosis, volatile organic compounds, growth chambers, environmental control systems
A major, often unrecognized variable regulating plant growth in semi-closed environment is air contaminant. The vapor of propylene glycol (PG), which was used as coolant in growth chambers, has been found to be toxic to corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine maxL.) plants. PG solution leaked from a valve packing system and volatilized to vapor, which was trapped in a semi-closed growth chamber. Symptoms of leaf edge chlorosis, later developing into necrosis, were observed on the third day of emergence or on the third day after moving healthy plants into the chamber. For young soybean plants, symptoms were slightly different from those observed in corn plants; the chlorosis symptoms were not uniformly distributed on all leaves. Some soybean leaves curled up and others had white spots. This problem was identified by using a portable photoionization detector to obtain instantaneous readings of total volatile organic compound concentrations inside the chambers. The presence of PG in selected chambers was verified using sample collection with solid phase microextraction (SPME) followed by analysis with multi-dimensional gas chromatography mass spectrometry (MD-GC-MS). This information is pertinent to researchers who use controlled environment to grow plants.