Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) is a popular choice for flower arrangements, bridal bouquets, and centerpieces. The fluffy white flowers are known for their delicate appearance, and have become a staple in the floral industry. While it is widely regarded as a harmless and non-toxic plant, there are significant health hazards associated with the flower that should not be ignored.
The Toxicity of Baby’s Breath Flower
Chemical analysis of baby’s breath shows that it contains saponins and protoanemonin, which can be toxic when ingested or inhaled. Saponins are natural detergents that can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Protoanemonin is a toxic lactone that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in some animals.
The greatest risk associated with baby’s breath is inhalation. Florists, farmers, and gardeners who handle the flower may inhale dust and pollen particles that can trigger respiratory problems such as bronchitis or asthma. Pets and children who are exposed to baby’s breath may also be at risk of respiratory distress.
Risk Factors Associated with Baby’s Breath
Individuals who work in the floral industry are at the highest risk of exposure to baby’s breath. They may handle the flower on a daily basis or come into contact with it in closed environments, increasing their risk of respiratory problems. However, there are other groups of people who are also at risk:
- Children and pets, who may be attracted to the flower and ingest it
- People with respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis
To minimize the risks associated with baby’s breath, it is important to take the following precautions:
- Handle baby’s breath with gloves and protective eyewear
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling baby’s breath
- Store baby’s breath away from closed environments
Baby’s breath is not the harmless floral arrangement flower it appears to be. Saponins and protoanemonin present in baby’s breath can be toxic when inhaled or ingested. Individuals who are at risk should take precautions when handling the flower to avoid any harm. Florists, farmers, and gardeners who work with baby’s breath should be particularly cautious, and organizations in the floral industry should take steps to protect their workers from exposure.