UBCO researchers working to improve device that eliminates COVID-19 carrying airborne droplets - InfoNews

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UBCO researchers working to improve device that eliminates COVID-19 carrying airborne droplets

UBCO professor Sunny Li, right, discusses adaptations to the Airborne Infection Isolation and Removal system, with his doctoral student Mojtaba Zabihi and Care Health Meditech managing partner Stephen Munro, centre.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / UBCO
July 15, 2020 - 11:07 AM

UBC Okanagan researchers and a Kelowna healthcare company are working to make improvements to a device that isolates and eliminates airborne droplets containing germs associated with COVID-19, creating a safer environment for dentists and their patients.

Called the Airborne Infection Isolation and Removal device, the gadget acts similarly to a vacuum hood, and sucks dangerous particles associated with viruses out of the air, according to a UBCO news release.

"Many dental procedures generate aerosols, or small droplets of saliva and blood, that are ejected into the air. These aerosols float in the room and can contain dangerous particles that contain viruses like SARS-COV2, influenza, tuberculosis, HPV and aerosolized mercury," Care Health Meditech managing partner Stephen Munro said in the release.

COVID-19 transmission occurs through breathing in respiratory droplets, touching contaminated surfaces or inhaling particles in the air.

The AIIR device is currently being used by Canadian and U.S. dentists, and UBCO researchers are improving the design in professor Sunny Li’s Thermal Management and Multiphase Flows lab.

“Although we are targeting the dental industry, there’s an opportunity to expand into other areas where the risk of airborne infection is high,” Munro said, adding his company has already developed in-house manufacturing capabilities for the device.

As this device has the potential to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to patients and dentists, it allows dentistry to return to almost normal procedures, he said.

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