Thursday, March 27, 2014

Air Purifying Hardwood Floor is Revolutionary but is it Safe?

There is a new flooring product on the market that according to its manufacturers can purify the air, but is it safe? Hermetically sealed homes may be energy efficient but they may also lock in airborne toxins. According to a new WHO report, 4.3 million deaths in 2012 are attributable to indoor air pollution. This new product could be a revolutionary way of improving indoor air quality. However, this air purifying hardwood floor is the first of its kind, so there is no history that can be studied.

The new flooring product is called Pure Genius® smart hardwood flooring and it is manufactured by Lauzon Distinctive Hardwood Flooring one of the leading hardwood flooring manufacturers in North America. The company distinguishes itself through its environmental commitment which includes "sustainable resources" and other initiatives. On their website they list the conversion of wood pellet residue into fuel as one of their environmental initiatives.

According to the manufacturer the air purifying characteristic of this flooring is activated by natural or artificial light and by the movement of air. It continuously breaks down airborne toxins, creating a constant supply of pure air in the home.

Lauzon claims that its studies show that the air in rooms installed with Pure Genius is up to 85 per cent cleaner than spaces without the flooring.

“Many people don’t realize the extent to which the air-tight environments in today’s homes contain pollutants and toxic contaminants, such as formaldehyde emitted from furniture, building materials and common household products,” said Priscilla Bergeron, Communication Manager of Lauzon, explaining that indoor air is often five to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. “Poor air quality in the home causes build-up of bacteria, viruses and moulds, and may lead to allergies, fatigue and respiratory problems like asthma.”

She added that, after 30 days, rooms installed with Pure Genius flooring have been shown to have a formaldehyde level of only five parts per billion (ppb), compared to 16-32.5 ppb found in a typical home. What’s more, Pure Genius helps reduce household odors such as cigarette smoke, pet urine and lingering cooking smells.

Highly washable and resistant, the flooring enables hardwood cleaners to disperse better, so “not only is the atmosphere cleaner, but the actual floor itself is cleaner,” Bergeron said, adding that the technology works for as long as the finish lasts.“The purifying effect is so strong, that for an average 1,377-square-foot home installed with Pure Genius, it’s like having three trees in your home,” Bergeron said.

Pure Genius is specially-formulated using a patented titanium dioxide technology that according to the manufacturer, decomposes bacteria, viruses and moulds, and reduces potential carcinogens by constantly transforming toxic airborne particles into harmless water and carbon dioxide molecules.

Titanium dioxide is among the top fifty most commonly produced chemicals in the world and it is commonly used in paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, toothpastes, cosmetics, skin care products and sunblock.

Although titanium dioxide has been labeled as potentially carcinogenic, according to its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), titanium dioxide is regarded as an inert, non-toxic substance. Questions about the safety of titanium dioxide are attributable to a classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen. They specifically state that titanium dioxide is ''possibly carcinogen to humans''.

According to the evidence, high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation. However it should be noted that the human studies conducted so far do not suggest an association between occupational exposure to titanium dioxide and an increased risk for cancer.

It should further be noted that the evidence linking titanium dioxide is less than conclusive. The definition by the IARC for Group 2B possibly carcinogenic to humans is as follows:

"This category is used for agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data may be placed in this group. An agent may be classified in this category solely on the basis of strong evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data."

The evidence for a carcinogenic link is based on a rat study by Lee, Trochimowicz & Reinhardt (1985), which according to some investigators may not be an analogous species to assess human impacts. 

Other scientific reviews have not borne out a safety risk from titanium dioxide including a 1969 Rome study by the World Health Organization and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2002) also failed to find a link. 

The safety of titanium dioxide may be a function of the size of the particles. It would appear that the link between cancer and titanium dioxide may be isolated to ultrafine or nano particles. A study by Churg et. al. at the University of British Columbia called "Induction of Fibrogenic Mediators by Fine and Ultrafine Titanium Dioxide in Rat Tracheal Explants" (1999) found that ultrafine particles of titanium dioxide (less than 0.1 microns), are pathogenic or disease causing.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Unknown said...

Yes, Pure Genius is the first air-purifying smart hardwood floor. However, the Titanium Dioxyde is already used for it’s air-purifying effect in many other products such as ceramic, luxury vinyl, exterior cladding, paint, glass, cement and more. We are even seeing an increase in the number of manufacturers that are launching this kind of active surfaces.

As you can read in the FAQ section of our website, TiO2 has been used as a white pigment dating back centuries. It is readily available, chemically stable and harmless. TiO2, is used extensively in many commercial products, including paint, cosmetics, plastics, paper and food, as an anti-caking or whitening agent. It is also used in cosmetic and skin-care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light. It is produced and used in the workplace in varying particle-size fractions, including fine and ultra fine sizes.

Based on scientific studies, the risk for cancer, particularly lung cancer in mice, is only of a potential concern for ultra fine or nano-sized TiO2.

TiO2 used in the making of PURE GENIUS is neither of these particle sizes and it is completely encapsulated in the finish so it is therefore harmless.

Thank you for your interest in our products and we hope this will reassure you on the safety of our Pure Genius.

Anonymous said...

If its completely encapsulated, then how does it clean the air?

Unknown said...

The way Pure Genius is applied is a very tricky operation, which renders it harder for the competition to actually get their hands on the technology. To put it in simple words, the TiO2 molecules are for most parts bound to the coating while the upper ends of the molecules are exposed to the air, a meticulously controlled migration process achieves this, which is part of the application recipe.

Anonymous said...

When the top particle have finish with the reaction how do they regenerate? Otherwise the chemical reaction would stop pretty fast?

Unknown said...

Pure Genius is a photocatalytic technology. Photo means light and Catalytic means catalyst for a chemical change – so photocatalytic is by definition - a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. It's like a car catalyst.

Unknown said...

Hardwood floor site finishing and resanding is a common practice and the sanding of floors with Pure Genius does not pose any additional health risks than a floor without Pure Genius. When working with dust, (like when sanding a floor) there are several safety tips one can take to minimize inhalation:

Evelyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
barbara kerwin said...

I put in a high quality nylon carpet which made me sick and I developed many new allergies. My anniphylaxis doctor had me remove said carpet. I have Lauzon’s aluminum oxide finish in another adjacent area to the removed carpet. I am urged to replace the carpet with wood or stone. I am intrigued by claims of the Lauzon Titanium genius finish, but worried if I do install it my health may decline. This article suggests it can possibly be carcinogenic l(evel 28 May possibly). Titanium dioxide is in my sun block. Due to my severe allergies, would one recommend titanium finish or aluminum finish?