The amount of time we spend indoors (90% of our lives) in our homes, offices and schools has recently received a lot of attention, in part because air quality is typically 5 times worse indoors than outdoors. We’ve got off-gassing from new furniture, carpets, foam mattresses, plastics, and the glues, paints and solvents used in renovations.
The rise in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) includes formaldehyde (often in cabinetry), benzene and methyl chloride, all of which are well-known carcinogens as well as triggers for asthma, eczema, allergies and other respiratory symptoms. The attention to VOCs in our homes has given rise to a plethora of new equipment to purify air, from standard charcoal filter fans to the new loop-like Dyson air purifiers.
A company in the Northwest, where healthy buildings are a priority, has now commercialized a bioengineered additive that actively and continuously improves indoor air quality when applied to floor coatings, polishes, wall paint, household cleaners and other materials. The additive, developed by Diatomix Corporation in Beaverton, Oregon, not only continuously absorbs VOCs but converts the absorbed VOCs into nontoxic byproducts.
The product has been tested and validated in a third party lab, whose test showed that a paint with a version of the additive degraded the concentration of 2-butanol and formaldehyde in a large test chamber by more than 90 percent. For new homes that are built tighter for energy savings, the product may offer cleaner air.
How it works
The Diatomix compound additive contains diatomaceous earth that is discretely coated with fine titanium dioxide photocatalytic particles in a patent pending process. The compound, in the presence of light, will trap VOCs and chemically convert them to water and carbon dioxide on a continuous basis. The compound is a solid powder that will be sold directly to paint and coatings manufacturers.
The company is setting its sights on a number of markets, including reduction of VOCs in home, auto and commercial building use, as well as in institutions and transportation vehicles, from aircraft to cruise ships. Diatomix is also looking at sporting apparel odor control through incorporation into textiles, and even methane gas reduction in agriculture and waste management.
The company’s CEO, Adrian Pollack, says the company is already selling in China and is negotiating with two large multinational companies. This year they won an Impact Invention Award from the Lemelson Foundation.