LifeAire Systems Designs Decontamination Unit for N95 Masks
By Colin McEvoy on May 18, 2020
As the nation grapples with quarantines and millions of employees are telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lehigh Valley has a high percentage of essential jobs that cannot be done from home. Each week, we’re recognizing some of our Economic Heroes, the companies and organizations that are continuing to work during these difficult times, helping keep the regional economy strong and doing their part to help fight against the coronavirus.
LifeAire Systems was already helping in the fight against the coronavirus, as the air purification systems the Upper Macungie Township-based company manufactured were designed to kill or inactivate the most infectious biological pathogens, including COVID-19.
Now, LifeAire is taking that fight one step further, with a brand new product that uses the company’s air purification technology to disinfect and decontaminate N95 masks, so they can be safely reused by health care professionals and help alleviate equipment shortages.
And it all started because Katy Worrilow, Founder & CEO of LifeAire Systems, saw the first-hand need for this product from her husband, an ER attending physician who, like all others on the front line, has no choice but to re-use his N95 mask.
“PPE equipment is personal to me,” Worrilow said. “Our goal is to allow our health care workers who are fighting on the front lines to save lives to be able to do so safely, and with confidence.”
The new product, Aire~PPE DeCon Unit, is a portable, rapid, chemical-free decontamination unit capable of disinfecting more than 8,500 masks per day per unit. Masks can be safely decontaminated up to 20 times, Worrilow said, and ready for safe and immediate use in less than three-and-a-half minutes.
LifeAire Systems is in the process of seeking emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to introduce the product. Once approval is granted, the company is immediately prepared to begin manufacturing.
LifeAire’s flagship air purification systems have been installed in more than 50 hospitals across the nation. The technology behind the systems had been originally designed to kill the anthrax spore, one of the most difficult biological spores to eradicate. As a result, the technology also proved highly effective against the coronavirus.
“The reason it provides such a high kill of COVID-19 is we designed it to kill the most difficult spores,” Worrilow said. “We wanted all bacteria, viruses, and fungi completely killed when it goes through our system. We’ve been delivering that for years.”
St. Luke’s University Health Network announced last week that it was installing a second LifeAire unit in its Allentown campus to help protect its patients. The units provide a 145-log kill reduction against COVID-19, St. Luke’s officials said, many times more effective than the standard 6-log kill needed to achieve sterile air.
“St. Luke’s Allentown is thankful to have industry partners like LifeAire to aid in advancing the already safe and great care we provide to our patients,” said Bill Moyer, President of St. Luke’s Allentown.
By reducing the need to purchase more N95 masks, the new Aire~PPE DeCon Unit is estimated to provide $1.5 million in monthly cost savings per unit for hospitals, effectively paying for itself within less than one day of use, Worrilow said.
LifeAire Systems began as a startup company in Lehigh Valley and is a client of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The company employs nine people in the Lehigh Valley, and its manufacturing is done here in the region by H.T. Lyons, Inc.
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