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This super house plant scrubs pollution from your home

Household plants make more than just a natural beauty to your home. They also help clean the air .

A scientist in Washington is testing genetically modified pothos-ivy to see how quickly the plant can break down harmful chemicals.

Mark Stone / University of Washington

Now, researchers at the University of Washington have improved the air cleaning properties of a common household facility, pothos-ivy (epipremium aureum).

The genetically modified pothos-ivy team not only removes carcinogens such as chloroform and benzene from the air, but synthesizing a protein, called 2E1

, which turns these harmful compounds into molecules that plants use for their own growth.

The researchers chose pothos-ivy as the plant for modification as it grows well indoors in a variety of conditions. They specify their work in a new study published this week in Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers added benzene or chloroform gas to modified and unmodified plants in glass tubes. Over 11 days, they collected data on how each polluting concentration changed.

According to the study, the unmodified plants did not greatly affect the concentration of any of the gases. However, the modified plants dramatically changed the concentration of chloroform inside the tube, causing it to drop by 82 percent shortly after three days. By the sixth day it was almost completely undetectable.

The concentration of benzene also decreased due to the modified plants. After day 8, it fell by an impressive 75 percent.

"People haven't really talked about these dangerous organic compounds in homes and I think it's because we couldn't do anything about them," studying author Stuart Strand said in a statement. "Now we have constructed potted plants to remove these pollutants for us."

The research group plans to add a protein to potho plants that can break down another dangerous pollutant into some homes: formaldehyde. This harmful compound is often found in wooden floors and cabinets.

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