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Posted:  31 Mar 2015 20:34  
Has anyone had plants show reaction to paint?  Rhapis and planter were pulled into maintenance shop on site and planter was painted. The plant died, and we are trying to find out if that was the reason. Two Rhapis plants nearby were not painted, and are still healthy.
Posted:  01 Apr 2015 04:27  
Rhapis excelsa is reputed to be one of the better "air-purifying" plants in the interiorscape, generally being credited as a capable remover of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).  VOCs are some of the major air pollutants present in many paints, which continue to off-gas even after they've dried.  So it would seem unusual for a plant that supposedly can absorb and neutralize VOCs to succumb to them.  But it could be a matter of acute exposure to a high concentration of the VOCs that did in your Rhapis.  If the plant and planter were left confined to the maintenance shop for an extended period of time (for the paint to dry, for example), it's possible that the plant may have suffered from that "overdose" of toxic fumes.  Rhapis palms have been studied in this respect, and while they appear to be fairly adept at removing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and ammonia, they are not so hot at remediating benzene and tricholoroethylene, according to some NASA studies.  As luck would have it, auto body paints contain both benzene and trichloroethylene.  So if that type of paint was used to refinish the planter, then your Rhapis palm may have suffered exposure to high concentrations of benzene in the process and aftermath of painting it.  Whether or not that would be enough to kill it is debatable and probably un-knowable.

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