How Do Common Household Chemicals Affect the Growth of Wisconsin Fast Plants?

Friday, February 12, 2016
Tianxin Xu, Iowa Academy of Science, Ames, IA
The objective of this experiment was to test if exposure to chemicals commonly found around the household affected the growth of plants, which could greatly affect our environment and food supply. The initial idea was that they would cause negative effects because strong chemical fumes affect us negatively, with side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea. In order to test our idea, 120 plants were grown in groups of 24. All plants were grown for one week. Afterwards, four groups were each exposed to a different chemical substance: paint, perfume, bleach, and nail polish remover, while one was kept as a control. The plants were then grown for three more weeks. As they grew, pictures were taken and observations were noted. At the end of the four weeks, the plants were pulled out, final observations were noted, and the heights of all plants were measured. The data and observations showed that exposure to most chemicals appeared to affect the plants negatively, but some chemicals appeared to have no effect or even a positive effect. The conclusion reached was that our hypothesis was partially correct in that some chemicals did appear to affect the plants negatively. However, more studies will need to be conducted to explain the positive effects as well as determine the extent of the effects.