VIDEO: Aereus Technologies CEO John Dwyer on their Revolutionary Anti-microbial Copper Spray
Aereus Technologies Inc CEO Jon Dwyer explains how their company uses thermal coating microbial technology to prevent the spread of infections. This has applications in any high-traffic areas such as hospitals, gyms, and other public-acess areas with surfaces that are touched by hands.
James West: Jon, thanks for joining me today.
Jon Dwyer: Nice to be here.
James West: Let’s talk about Aereus Technologies: what does it do, and what exactly is it?
Jon Dwyer: So Aereus Technologies is a manufacturer of antimicrobial thermal coatings. So copper, in and of itself, is inherently antimicrobial; I’ve seen this coming into vogue more and more, you’re seeing high-touch surfaces in places like hospitals, as you’ll see on the screen behind us, as well as high-touch surfaces in quick-serve restaurant spaces and fitness facilities. Funny enough, before I get into it, you’d think a toilet seat was dirtier than a treadmill? You’re wrong. A treadmill handle is almost twice as dirty as a public toilet seat. We’ll get into that a little bit later, as shocking as it seems.
James West: Wow, incredible. Okay, so how do you bring this product to market, and is your product the actual surfaces?
Jon Dwyer: Yeah, so essentially what we do is, we’ve got a very globally unique product insofar as, we take a copper alloy. So the EPA has certified 500 different copper alloys; the minimum threshold is such that it has to contain 65 percent copper. The reason for that is, copper is antimicrobial; at a cellular level, copper actually produces a peroxide which kills any pathogens which sit on its surface.
So we achieve one of the fastest kills in recorded EPA history. It’s a very, very functional product, and by virtue of it being an alloy, we can actually make it achieve different colours other than that red, rose hue that you’re used to.
So what we do is, we take any number of these copper alloys, we heat them up to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit in a contained booth with an operator who’s in a fully aspirated mask. We do full reclamation, so there’s no dust particulate that’s lost, or any waste whatsoever. And what we do is, we bring the copper as close to a gaseous state as we can while still keeping it a liquid. And we have what the University of Waterloo developed the first patent, for applying 3,600 degree heated copper onto plastic without melting the substrate, which is the surface.
So this is incredibly important when looking at things like hospital bedside rails, toilet seats, the back of the cell phone, your cell phone cover, pens, I mean literally, we can coat anything made out of plastic, metal or wood. And it’s incredibly durable, and more importantly, it’s one of the most powerful antimicrobial agents on the planet.
James West: Okay, so tell me: how is it that we have not discovered this antimicrobial feature about copper in the past? Everybody’s well familiar with silver, but it sounds like this copper is even better than silver.
Jon Dwyer: Right. So I’ll answer the question about silver first: it’s very important, the distinction between antimicrobials. If you look at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest hospitals if not the largest hospital asset owner on the western seaboard in the United States, they have now banned all chemical antimicrobials and silver, by virtue of the fact that it’s not effective. And the only one that they still allow in their hospitals is copper.
The reason for that is, the chemical products, no matter what you do, are going to leach off. Products like Microban, for instance, which you’ll see on streetcars, that Bombardier actually used to put on their high-touch surfaces; you’ll see a lot of the handles on the TTC buses, trains, etcetera, and you’ll notice that there’s almost a white, powder-ish hue where people have high touch surfaces. That’s actually the chemical wearing off and coming off on your hand.
Silver is not as effective as an antimicrobial agent because it’s only effective in hot and humid environments. So you’ll see silver effectively working in the marketplace, being woven into the armpits in shirts, and then into socks, because when you’re stopping odour, essentially what you’re doing is killing the microbes that are feasting on the proteins your body is creating. So by virtue of having the silver there, it’s going to be effective because it’s hot and humid in that area.
But if you coat a door handle, a toilet seat, a push plate in silver, it will not be antimicrobial, it’s just going to be a regular substrate like stainless steel.
James West: Okay. So this has not historically been used in hospitals and in medical facilities, has it?
Jon Dwyer: It depends on whom you ask. The historical precedent is an interesting one, because depending on where your viewers are, a lot of folks from central and eastern Asia will note that water basins and cooking pots were classically made out of copper, and the reason for that is, they fundamentally knew that copper was antimicrobial.
And the unique thing about copper is that it doesn’t ever have this degenerating effect. It’s not like it’s a finite product by any means. So if you take a 2000-year-old piece of copper, or an alloy that’s just been refined by any number of the companies that manufacture them, the antimicrobial efficacy today and in 2000 years from now, will be identical.
That was something that was kind of known in a community level, in a lot of these smaller, more tribal communities across the world, well in advance of the past 500 years. And you’ll notice that door handles are made of copper and brass mostly going up to 1950, 1960, where we see the index pressure of copper going up. And now, more specifically, companies in the United States have come out and manufactured products out of solid copper to be antimicrobial.
So what makes us very different is, if you’re going to take a door handle or a toilet seat and make it out of copper, it’s going to be incredibly expensive, and it’s going to be very heavy.
James West: Right.
Jon Dwyer: It also is going to look like copper, so it’s going to patina or turn green and oxidize lie you see on the hills of Parliament.
James West: Which would be weird inside your bathroom.
Jon Dwyer: It would be kind of strange. So what we do that’s different is, we thermally applicate it so by virtue of doing that, we apply it in a 1/40th of an inch thick coating, and we can retrofit. So if you look at a hospital in Canada, for instance, and it’s important to note, we have a number of other assets right now; we’re acquiring more and more. We just bought the second-largest hospital headwall manufacturer in Ontario. So we service provinces, all the RFPs in all 10 provinces across the country, and a lot of northern US states. So we actually install the headwall which goes alongside the bed, which will hold everything from the gas for the anesthesiologist to the electrical, and where all of the care is being administrated [sic]
So what we’re currently doing is building our company to be a Number One solution for hospital room problems as it relates to ergonomic design and more importantly, as it relates to an antimicrobial build that is not cumbersome as it relates to hospitals being build out here in Canada.
James West: Hmm. So is this going to have an impact, then, on the problem of resistant bacteria and infected pathogens that are, you know, you go to the hospital, you come out sick with something that you got at the hospital. Is that going to be – does that mitigate that problem?
Jon Dwyer: Well, it’s important, before answering that question, that we point out that this is not a problem that resides with health care administrators – doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, the C-level executives, infectious disease folks – everybody is working very hard in Canada, they really are, and we see that on the ground level, and they’re all to be applauded.
The problem is a lack of dollars and a lack of genuine care, or I should say, the lack of an economic understanding of how expensive these hospital-acquired infections are. So every hospital-acquired infection that happens to a patient, either in Canada or the United States or anywhere around the world, the current index price in North America is $47,000 USD per patient. Last year in Canada registered, we had 220,000 patients infected, staying in hospital over 10 days, and we had 8,800 die.
James West: Wow.
Jon Dwyer: And we believe that the diagnosis rate, or at least the registration of somebody saying ‘hey look, this person is sick or died by virtue of a hospital acquired infection’ actually only being 15 percent reported. So those numbers are incredibly higher than that. And if you look at right now, it’s all over the newspapers, there was a VRE outbreak in Thunder Bay. I know there’s a number of hospitals – I don’t want to malign any hospitals or say that some are better than others, because I know everybody is working really hard, but there are a number of hospitals where this doesn’t go public where you have these super-bugs that are antibiotic resistant, and it all happens in the transmission of touching a high-touch surface.
So for instance, you go into a hospital, you see your aunt, your uncle, whomever it may be, and they’re in the hospital bed. You touch the hospital bedside rail. They happen to sneeze and things like MRSA, which happen to breed in our nasal passages, they sneeze in their hand, they touch the hospital bedside rail, and then you touch it, give them a kiss or a hug, and you go out. You can touch the door handle, and in less than a minute, that’s going to be at the front door.
James West: Wow. Okay, so how long until this product is sort of industry standard in Canadian health care?
Jon Dwyer: We just finished a very successful trial in the bone marrow transplant and leukemia ward at Vancouver General Hospital, and we’re going to be rolling out over a number of additional hospitals. And we’ve got a big announcement coming out in Q2 of which we can’t quite go into detail yet, but you’re going to see a heck of a lot more of our products, not only in hospitals, but also in quick-serve restaurant spaces and in fitness facilities.
So it’s very – we have a very panoptic view of the industry, and you know, the rollout process for us is one that has been eight years in the making, and we’re finally at the point now we’re about go to – I don’t want to say viral, because that’s a bad analogy –
James West: Ha ha, right! Okay, Jon, that’s an excellent overview. We’re going to come back to you in a couple quarters and see how you’re doing. Thanks for joining me today.
Jon Dwyer: My pleasure. Thank you.
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