On November 12th, 2020 Dr. Stevie Famulari presented her research entitled  "Using Plants In An Urban Green Design to Improve Poor Air Quality Caused By Huwomxns" at our virtual Research Colloquia. Dr. Famulari went into great detail about how we can incorporate green walls and plant air filtration systems into our urban communities to improve our air quality. 

The air that we breathe in can have various toxic elements in it that are giving off by air traffic, freeways, and even the paint we cover our walls with. In her presentation she described her highlighted green solution through phytoremediation, “Phytoremediation is the use of plants to uptake contaminants from the soil, air or water.” Through this process, schools, office buildings and, community parks can absorb, neutralize, or even vaporize these various air contaminants by adding environmentally friendly and stable decore.

Dr. Famulari directs our attention to a neighborhood in the Bronx. Like many other urban neighborhoods, it contains local parks, schools, offices, and industrial buildings all centered around a freeway. Now the Bronx is also right beneath a common air traffic plan as two airports are located right outside of New York City. This huge amount of air pollution resulting from travel and industrial industries makes this Bronx neighborhood extremely likely to fall subject to various diseases and lung conditions. A simple solution like creating hydroponic walls that feature scrubs and plants to perform Phytoremediation can help fight against this phenomenon. 

She dived deeper and highlighted a few different plant species have specific abilities. For example, Buffalo Grass and the Boston Fern are shown to remove car emissions from our air. In addition, an English Ivy and a Peace Lily can remove carbon monoxide and formaldehyde that may be put in the air from factories and even the couches in our homes. Having these plants are not only aesthetically pleasing but can greatly give back to our community’s overall health.  

You may be asking yourself what would this look like? Dr. Famulari shared photographs from her most recent book: “Green Up!  Sustainable Design Solutions for Healthier Work & Living Environments”. Displayed in this image to the right, inspired by a local community school in the Bronx, you can see how incorporating green walls in stairwells is a creative and beautiful way to clean our air. 

We are not limited to solely indoor efforts. We can also incorporate these resolutions into our local community parks and office rooftops. Displayed here are examples Dr. Famulari has created.

Making these community changes in these environmentally safe and sustainable ways can change the air we breathe and our health overall.