Clean air breakthrough could tackle MRSA and CF

11 Nov 2010

Irish entrepreneurs claim to have developed a breakthrough “hurdle” technology that kills the spread of airborne pathogens like MRSA, bacteria and viruses, such as avian and swine flu, and could have major healthcare, industrial and travel applications across the world.

The spread of airborne pathogens, bacteria and viruses, whether it be in industrial plants, food manufacturing units, healthcare facilities, pharmaceutical factories, or commercial offices, is soon to be a thing of the past due to the introduction to Ireland of a cutting-edge “hurdle technology”.

A new Irish company, Health and Safety Today, has secured all-Ireland distribution rights for its AirManager technology, which is designed to quickly and efficiently destroy 99.999pc of airborne pathogens and viruses, including, for example, airborne MRSA.

The technology, in effect, sterilises the air.

Irish entrepreneurs Albert Lennon and Simon Collins are the names behind the new Wicklow-based company, Health and Safety Today – which is looking to bring costs down for Irish businesses.

Both engineers by profession, Lennon has previously established several successful commercial operations in Russia and the States, while Collins has previously focused on pharmaceutical contract engineering projects across Europe.

The applications and implications are far-reaching across all sectors of industry and business, and when combined with best practice, the AirManager technology can easily create clean room environments anywhere, from food production lines and raw material/finished stock storage areas, to hospital wards and even GP waiting rooms.

AirManager can eliminate dangerous fumes and smoke, as well as non-fatal but pungent odours of virtually any kind from an enclosed atmosphere. It reduces levels of carbon monoxide and ammonia; removes suspended asbestos from the air and provides biological protection from all common airborne derived ailments such as flus (avian and swine flus included), colds, TB, etc.

Clean room standards

In essence, the AirManager can provide up to a clean room standard of ISO Level 6 in virtually any environment.

The new revolutionary technology breaks down all viral and bacterial compounds, in addition to reducing VOCs and odours by actively ripping all contaminants apart at a molecular level in a highly charged plasma field, then trapping any resulting particles in an innovative low-resistance high airflow (HAF), which carries the same ISO standard as a High Level HEPA filter.

“AirManager will bring affordable, high efficiency and scalable air purification clean room technology to a much wider market. Initially, food manufacturing, pharmaceutical and industrial areas will be our focus, while there are plans to see the system roll out to revolutionise patient care through the healthcare system in Ireland,” said Lennon, managing director, Health and Safety Today.

“Take, for example, a medium-sized food manufacturing company, such as a bakery – when combined with best practice, AirManager will minimise contamination of food stuffs; deliver better quality assurance and product control; lower production costs due to minimising spoilage or contamination; improve quality control and extend product shelf life.

“Ultimately, this brings down production losses and increases profits, whilst being more energy efficient than current traditional systems. In tandem, AirManager ensures adherence to strict health and environmental guidelines.”

The company has obtained initial start-up funding from Bank of Ireland and will look for further investment as it expands rapidly, employing 10 sales agents for Ireland in the first six months.

Collins adds: “AirManager will help ensure manufacturers a competitive edge improving their bottom line. We aim to deliver energy savings of a minimum of 10pc across the entire energy demand of a business. Companies can be assessed either independently, or through our consultancy service which can carry out a feasibility study.”

AirManager won the 2008NHS Smart Solutions Award in the UK and has been cleared by the NHS Rapid Review Panel (RRP) allowing healthcare facilities to fast track purchase and installation.

The AirManager technology is already being used in infectious disease and critical care facilities across the UK as well as in a number of hospitals and an imminent NHS report this autumn will outline the technology’s full healthcare implications. 

AirManager is also likely to have a fundamental impact on the management of airborne viruses in the healthcare sector by allowing hospitals to easily and cost-effectively manage super bug,s such as airborne MRSA, SARS, swine flu and winter vomiting bugs, avoiding epidemics and even more importantly, freeing up hospital beds.

Cystic fibrosis

The technology has also potentially huge potential for those with life-threatening conditions, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.

CF sufferers can benefit from using the portable domestic system at home and minimise the risks associated with lack of current room facilities in hospitals.

“It’s exciting to think of the impact that a portable unit can have in terms of the quality air inhaled by someone with a severe condition such as cystic fibrosis,” Lennon said. “There has been a huge issue regarding the lack of facilities for these patients in Ireland, including private hospital rooms to avoid cross contamination. When combined with best practice, the AirManager will reduce the possibility of these patients becoming cross infected from another patient in a room-share situation.” 

AirManager will be responsible for the quality of air we breath on airplanes – Quest International and the NAA (North American Aeronautical Association) have jointly spent four years testing AirManager on Boeing and Focker aircraft.

The AirManager succeeded in drastically reducing the airborne pathogens and viruses which pass throughout the cabin, whilst in tandem reducing fuel costs by 2pc. The global giant – BAE Systems is also working with Quest with regard to military applications.

In Ireland to date, AirManager has been used in GP waiting rooms, nursing homes, pubs, flood-damaged buildings (Cork and Ennis) and fire-damaged buildings (Tallaght hospital canteen) to name but a few.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years