Local company’s device disinfects hospital, home air

A local firm has developed a biological air disinfection system for the health care market that company officials said can help reduce hospital-acquired infections, the number four cause of death in the U.S. with an estimated annual cost of $40 billion.

The company, Aerobiotix Inc., is now entering the consumer market with a home air purifier that uses the same ultraviolet-based technology to kill bacteria, viruses and spores in indoor air.

Aerobiotix was launched in August 2013 by Dr. David Kirschman, a retired spinal surgeon who also serves as president and chief executive of X-Spine Systems Inc., a spinal implant manufacturer that employs about 70 workers in Miamisburg.

Aerobiotix at 454 Alexandersville Road has four full-time and one part-time workers. The privately held company introduced its T1 product line for health care organizations earlier this year. The Aero One line for residential and light industrial use was launched in June.

“It is the only system like it in the world that doesn’t just clean the air, but actually disinfects the air,” Kirschman said.

Kirschman has two patents pending for his “3D-UV” air disinfection technology. He developed the system over two years — starting in his garage — after seeing the need for a device to improve hospital air quality.

Unlike Europe, the U.S. doesn’t have standards for the amount of bacteria, viruses and spores in the air in hospital operating and patient rooms, he said.

A 1985 study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that up to 90 percent of bacterial contaminants found in wounds after surgery come from “colony forming units” present in the air of the operating room.

“The hardest place to kill a pathogen is inside the human body,” Kirschman said. “Once it is inside the body, it’s kind of too late.”

The Aerobiotix system uses C-band ultraviolet light focused on a reaction chamber filled with thousands of clear cylindrical silicate crystals. The silicate crystals function as a solid media filter, slowing and trapping organisms as they pass through the chamber via a fan-driven air stream.

The organisms trapped in the crystal matrix are killed by the ultraviolet light. An additional HEPA filter system serves to trap inactivated particles and also prevents particulate contamination of the reactor.

“You need to slow the air down, which is what we do, in order to get the kill power that you need. So the air coming out the top is ultra-clean, or nearly sterile,” Kirschman said.

An independent analysis by the Research Triangle Institute, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-affiliated laboratory in Raleigh, N.C., found that the T1 kills 100 percent of viruses, 99.97 percent of bacteria and 99.91 percent of spores in a single pass through the unit.

A separate test at a Dayton-area hospital operating room determined that the T1 reduced airborne bacterial levels by 82 percent, according to company documents.

Ryan Roshong, Aerobiotix vice president of sales and marketing, said the T1 system currently is in use at hospitals in Atlanta; Philadelphia; Cleveland; Milwaukee; Tucson, Ariz.; and Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas.

“The (T1) system is an ideal supplement to the facility’s current air system,” said Anita Mullin, Infection Prevention manager at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington in Texas. “It adds an additional layer of airborne pathogen removal to achieve best practices in reducing the transmission of airborne bacterial and viral infections in the hospital,” she said.

“As the first hospital in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to implement this technology, we are proud to take this proactive approach in providing cleaner air to decrease chances of infections in the hospital,” Mullin said.

The free-standing Aerobiotix units can be rapidly deployed at hospitals, factories and offices, without requiring alterations to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, Kirschman said.

The Aero One residential model retails for $899 and is being sold through Amazon.com.

Both Aerobiotix models are manufactured and assembled in Burlington, Ky., said Nathan Utz, the company’s operations manager. Some final assembly is completed in Miamisburg.

Apart from the crystals, the units are all metal, because ultraviolet light breaks down plastics over time, Utz said.

“They don’t release ozone, they don’t release chemicals and you’re not exposed to the ultraviolet rays themselves,” Kirschman said.

Aerobiotix plans to expand to additional U.S. and foreign markets, including the Middle East, which is dealing with the MERS virus, Kirschman said. The company also plans to increase its sales and marketing force for direct sales to hospitals and businesses, and to grow its commercial business, he said.

“We’ve got a strong growth plan over the next two to three years. Our goal is to become the leader in this space,” Kirschman said.

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