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Removal of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) via atmospheric humidity caused by evapotranspiration

Ryu, Jeongeun, Kim, Jeong Jae, Byeon, Hyeokjun, Go, Taesik, Lee, Sang Joon
Environmental pollution 2019 v.245 pp. 253-259
Epipremnum aureum, Scindapsus, afforestation, evapotranspiration, models, particulates, planting, public health, relative humidity, smoke, transpiration
Reduction of particulate matter (PM) has emerged as one of the most significant challenges in public health and environment protection worldwide. To address PM-related problems and effectively remove fine particulate matter (PM2.5), environmentalists proposed tree planting and afforestation as eco-friendly strategies. However, the PM removal effect of plants and its primary mechanism remains uncertain. In this study, we experimentally investigated the PM removal performance of five plant species in a closed chamber and the effects of relative humidity (RH) caused by plant evapotranspiration, as a governing parameter. On the basis of the PM removal test for various plant species, we selected Epipremnum aureum (Scindapsus) as a representative plant to identify the PM removal efficiency depending on evapotranspiration and particle type. Results showed that Scindapsus yielded a high PM removal efficiency for smoke type PM2.5 under active transpiration. We examined the correlation of PM removal and relative humidity (RH) and evaluated the increased effect of RH on PM2.5 removal by using a plant-inspired in vitro model. Based on the present results, the increase of RH due to evapotranspiration is crucial to the reduction of PM2.5 using plants.