Group Title: AREC-A research report - Agricultural Research and Education Center-Apopka ; RH-86-15
Title: Response of foliage plants to commerical interior paints
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 Material Information
Title: Response of foliage plants to commerical interior paints
Series Title: AREC-Apopka research report
Physical Description: 4 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Poole, R. T ( Richard Turk )
Conover, Charles Albert, 1934-
Agricultural Research and Education Center (Apopka, Fla.)
Publisher: University of Florida, IFAS, Agricultural Research and Education Center-Apopka
Place of Publication: Apopka FL
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: Foliage plants -- Effect of chemicals on -- Florida   ( lcsh )
House plants -- Effect of chemicals on -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Paint -- Environmental aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: R.T. Poole and C.A. Conover.
General Note: Caption title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00065913
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 70667642

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The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Response of Foliage Plants to Commercial IjtlergipPalnts ._____

R. T. Poole and C. A. Conove 1 Central Science
University of Florida, IFAS Library
Agricultural Research and Education Center Apopka
AREC-Apopka Research Report RH- 6-15 OCT 14 1987

I Univer1it Florida
A building located at AREC-Apopka containing 1 10' x 1U t rooms
is used to determine foliage plant responses to interior conditions. These
rooms are equipped with Cool White fluorescent lamps and heating and air
conditioning units to maintain desired temperatures. During the summer of
1985 one room was repainted. Ficus benjamin placed in this room several
months later were observed to lose more leaves than Ficus in other rooms.
The decision was made to test the response of foliage plants to some
commercial paints. Three experiments were conducted involving different
foliage plants (Table 1) to determine whether the problem was due to type
of paint used.

Experiment 1. Various paints purchased from 2 commercial sources were
applied to both sides of 2 sheets of plastic hung from the ceiling, to
equal the vertical surface area of the room. Plants were placed in the
rooms Feb. 21, 1986, and the experiment terminated May 16. Of the plants
tested, only Ficus and Dieffenbachia were affected by the paint, with the
response much greater with Ficus than with Dieffenbachia. Within a week
Ficus in some of the rooms had dropped over 100 leaves per plant during the
test, with more leaves dropped by Ficus in rooms with higher quality paints
(Table 2). Lower leaves of Dieffenbachia became chlorotic, then necrotic.

Experiment 2. After examining the results of Expt. 1 and consultation with
paint manufacturers, mercury (Hg) used as a mildewcide was suspected as the
possible cause of plant damage. Special formulations were obtained from a
paint formulator; one formulation had all ingredients found in a commercial
paint except Hg, while a second formulation had twice the amount of Hg
normally used. Of the plants tested, (Table 2) only Dieffenbachia and
Ficus were affected. Ficus in the control (no paint) room and those in the
room with paint without Hg maintained their leaves and attractive
appearance throughout the experiment. Ficus, in the room with twice the
normal amount of Hg, lost leaves rapidly and eventually died.
Dieffenbachia became extremely necrotic, although they reacted much slower
than Ficus.

Experiment 3. Special paint formulations were obtained from a paint
manufacturer containing 0,25,50,75 or 100% of the Hg found in a
commercially available paint. The only plants affected in this experiment
were Ficus which lost an increasing amount of leaves as Hg increased in the
paint, and Dieffenbachia which had more chlorotic leaves when in high Hg
rooms (Table 2).

Professor, Plant Physiology and Professor and Center Director,
Agricultural Research and Education Center, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL.
32703, respectively.


A large number of plants were exposed to commercial paints containing
Hg in enclosed rooms. Of the plants tested only Dieffenbachia and Ficus
were affected by Hg released from the paint surface as a vapor.
Dieffenbachia reacted slower than Ficus which began to experience heavy
leafdrop about a week after placement in the rooms. Even after severe
leafdrop, Ficus continued to produce new leaves, but these too soon dropped
from the plant.
The results of these experiments may explain some of the severe
problems experienced by interiorscapers with Ficus benjamin. Leaf drop of
acclimatized Ficus benjamin occurring soon after installation in a new
building or after repainting an existing building may be due to extremely
low levels of mercury vapor. Mercury is used in some paints to control
mildew, although it is not the only mildewcide used by paint formulators.
Our limited contacts with paint formulators indicate that mercury use is
most common with formulators that service commercial painting contractors
and local clientele. We have been told by paint manufacturers selling
national brands that most do not contain mercury.

The data presented indicate that interiorscapers should consider the
type of paint utilized in commercial buildings, and specify paint without
mercury. When severe leafdrop on Ficus benjamin occurs suddenly after
installation or repainting, the paint formulation should be obtained to
determine whether mercury is present.



Table 1. Plants tested for mercury tolerance.

Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Experiment 3

Codiaeum variegatum 'Norma' Aphelandra squarrosa 'Dania' Aglaonema 'Silver Queen'
Dieffenbachia 'Compacta' Brassaia actinophylla Collinia elegans
Dizygotheca elegantissima Crossandra 'Mona Walhead' Dieffenbachia 'Anne'
Ficus benjamin Dieffenbachia maculata 'Anne' Ficus benjamin
Polyscias balfouriana Dizygotheca elegantissima Ficus nuda
Schefflera arboricola Kalanchoe globalifera 'Caliente' Polyscias balfouriana
Spathiphyllum 'Carolynia' Rosa 'Coral Cameo' Rosa 'Coral Cameo
Saintpaulia ionantha Schefflera arboricola
Spathiphyllum 'Carolynia'

Table 2. Response of foliage plants placed in rooms with various
interior paints. 1986.

Experiment 1. Feb 21 May 16

Ficus benjamin Dieffenbachia 'Compacta'
No. of leaves dropped No. of chlorotic leaves
Control 19 14
A-1Z 313 25
A-2 1547 30
A-3 1508 32
B-1 285 19
B-2 689 26

Experiment 2. Apr 7 May 26

Control (no paint) 1 0
Paint (no mercury)y 1 1
Paint (with mercury)x 650 24

Experiment 3. May 8 June 5

Percent mercuryw
0 12 10
25 410 15
50 705 20
75 731 18
100 966 17
ZAvailable commercial paints from 2 producers; low numbers are
less expensive paints.
YContained all ingredients in B-1 except mercury.
xContained 2x amount of mercury as B-1.
w100% equals B-2; lower percentages are B-2 formulated with lower
mercury levels.



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