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U-earth: the best defense after a biological and chemical attack may be a good air filter.

U-Earth biotechnology was quoted in 2006 as one of the most efficient possible responses to biological and chemical weapons. Sadly today this threat is more than ever a serious matter of concern.

U-Earth biotechnology was quoted in 2006 as one of the most efficient possible responses to biological and chemical weapons. Sadly today this threat is more than ever a serious matter of concern.

This post is an extract from an Article appeared in December 2006 issue of Medical Design, published by Penton Media, Inc.

CAP is a precursor of AIRceltm bioreactors and today we have created a dedicated concentrated blend of the original Bio-Ox called U-Oxtm . What follows is the article as originally published.

The bad guys have already flown planes into buildings so almost any scenario for spreading pathogens or poisoning water supplies cannot be considered too extreme. Of course, how terrorists might use biological weapons is anyone’s guess. The avian influenza, a natural pathogen, has yet to make the jump to humans (and might not) but preparing for its potential epidemic could be a warm-up for biological attacks.

More than an air filter

The safest place during an outdoor airborne dispersal of harmful agents will be indoors. So keeping indoor air clean is one way to defeat the pathogens. But ridding indoor air of viruses and toxins will take more than fiber filters. Air & Water Solutions Inc., President Sam Sofer, Nutley, N.J., (cleanairplant.com), may have a filter for the job in what his company calls Clean Air Plants, or CAPs.( this is the ancestor the u-earth’s AIRcel ).

Sofer’s biological air cleaner looks and works differently than traditional flat-rectangular furnace filters. “First, air enters the center of the spiral wound bio-filter element. The water-washed element captures airborne particles as they bounce around air passages formed by the spiral. Turbulence ensures that airborne particles eventually contact the wet wall of biological filter material. The filter or cartridge is continuously washed so even smoke is removed.” Immobilized enzymes in the filter material transform captured viruses and pathogens – along with formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and phenols – into carbon dioxide and water, says Sofer.The filter material, BioOx, is capable of killing fecal e-coli, adds Sofer. It’s a patented bio material that works at room temperature.

Pathogens often need higher body temperatures to survive. Once trapped in the CAP, they are overwhelmed by the bacteria on the filter media. “We don’t have access toneurotoxins for testing, but we have similar versions in pesticides and have successfully tested BioOx against them.

This gives reason to believe it will kill neurotoxins such as the Sarin gas released in the Japanese subway some years ago,” he says. The 1995 release of Sarin killed 12 and affected many more. The problem with conventional filters is that some particles and vapor are on the order of 0.05 microns. “Even HEPA filters let these pass. And because many odor-causing molecules and particles carry a charge, they are influenced more by electrical fields than by the laws of flow mechanics,” says Sofer. A ventilation system can remove large particles the size of dust from a room, but the ones that stay are small enough so they don’t settle. And because such particles are electrically charged, they stick to surfaces. The particles don’t vent. Also, charged particles distribute themselves evenly throughout a room. Sofer says the characteristics of charged particles is critical to removing them from air.

He suggests conventional thinking will have to change to better combat airborne problems. “For example, suppose a truck carrying pesticides comes into town, ruptures, and spills its cargo. People would rush indoors where the HVAC – including filters, heaters, and air conditioning – would be turned off because it could pull in the pesticide and spread it. Soon, people would venture outside, into whatever’s left of the pesticide. Hence, the best preparation is to use a CAP to create a clean air zone in a building before the attack or accident, which calls for constant air cleaning.

Then during an accident, we would not shut down the HVAC, but continue recirculating and cleaning indoor air,” says Sofer. The CAP improves its efficiency by grounding the air around it, according to Sofer, thereby creating a clean-air zone. Because it is grounded, the unit captures negatively and positively charged particles. The pure-air zone created by the filter reduces the intensity of sudden releases of air emissions and rapidly reduces contaminants. Sofer says the characteristic of an electric charge works to our advantage. “It is highly likely that biologic agents will be electrically charged so they can be trapped in an active biofilter. Anthrax spores, one example, carry a charge and in tests, did not vent from a test room,” he adds.

Sofer tells of a clean room in which people were using the solvent xylene. The room was vented at 4,000 cfm. “Yet, workers still got sick. We installed two CAP filters, each pulling in 60 cfm, reduced venting to 2,000 cfm which saved on heating and air conditioning, and workers did not get sick again. So even xylene behaves as charged particles,” he says.

What’s more, the CAPs work outdoors, according to Sofer. A trash-transfer station originally installed two large air cleaners indoors. But after neighbors complained that the trucks were smelly, the company pulled one CAP into the parking area and alleviated the problem.

How preparedness pays for itself

Most plant managers don’t daily measure the indoor air quality of their facilities, suggests Air&Water Solutions’ Sam Sofer. “But they do care about the cost to heat and cool their plants. The law tells them to burn highly polluted air or run it through carbon, both of which are expensive.

” But one plant manager, says Sofer, found that CAP biological air filters worked so well that they allowed lower ventilation rates for a new building. And that reduced the size of air conditioners and heaters because they would need to heat and cool less replacement air, which leads to smaller ducts and fewer structural roof reinforcements, and even smaller wiring for the unit. “So protecting buildings against foul air and possible bioterrorist attacks can save on operating costs because the filter trims energy use,” he says . “

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