The Effect of Cigarette Smoke on House Plants

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Cigarette smoke is bad for houseplants.
Cigarette smoke is bad for houseplants. (Image: cigarette image by Tsvetomila Mitva from Fotolia.com)

Because air pollution and second-hand cigarette smoke are harmful to humans, you may wonder if cigarette smoke is bad for other living things like indoor houseplants. Some plants are hardy and can tolerate pollutants like cigarette smoke in the air. Other types of plants cannot tolerate cigarette smoke at all, such as the China doll plant. Cigarette smoke has positive and negative effects on most house plants.

Benefits

Cigarette smoke produces carbon dioxide. Houseplants take in carbon monoxide, just like humans inhale oxygen. The presence of cigarette smoke, or any kind of smoke, means that more carbon dioxide is available for houseplants to breathe.

Problems

Plants breathe through their leaves, which are covered in tiny holes that are called stomatal pores.For proper gas exchange to take place, these pores must remain open and clear. Cigarette smoke is composed of millions of tiny particles and contains tar that can block these pores, preventing the plant from breathing.

Significance

The negative effects of cigarette smoke on house plants far outweigh the benefits of cigarette smoke on houseplants. While the extra carbon dioxide in the air is good for plants, there is always carbon dioxide for them to breathe anyway.

Other Chemicals

Houseplants are like small, living air filters for the indoor environment. They are able to remove pollutants from the air while returning fresh oxygen to the room. Some plants, like pothos, are able to remove benzene and formaldehyde, which are two toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. However, plants cannot remove all of the toxins or any of the actual smoke from the air.

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