COVID-19 has caused regular people to pay more attention to science-backed efficacy. COVID has also changed the way we communicate, how we work, how we educate, how we protect, and how we live. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the health of indoor spaces received minimal consideration. As the pandemic progressed, human-to-human interaction in confined, indoor spaces became a significant contributor to disease transmission. The question that kept popping up among leaders of schools, companies, and other organizations where large groups congregated was, “How do we protect people who come into our space?”
R-Zero’s founders helped answer that question as they developed solutions using a time-tested disinfection method combined with state-of-the-art technology. Does the solution work? The results from third-party clinical efficacy and in-house environmental field studies speak for themselves. R-Zero’s decision to allow science to drive product design and implementation has helped students, employees, and other occupants return to their indoor environments by improving the health of indoor spaces.
The Experts Behind R-Zero’s Science-Backed Efficacy
R-Zero has made it a point to hire top performers and experts in sales, engineering, human resources, marketing, and communications. The R-Zero Science Team is no exception. The team includes highly qualified individuals tasked with conducting research related to ultraviolet radiation and disinfection efficacy with a goal of improving indoor air quality. With over 40 years of combined experience in toxicology, industrial hygiene, and clinical research, the R-Zero Science Team leverages their expertise to help design and conduct clinical efficacy studies in the laboratory and in the field in accordance with industry and regulatory standards for UV disinfection systems.
According to Carolina Koutras, R-Zero’s Director of Clinical Studies, “When it comes to measuring UV-C safety and efficacy, everything matters- the light source, the wavelength, the pathogen, the fixture design, the setting, and the end-user.” She adds, “It is a complex undertaking in an evolving commercial and regulatory landscape that only a few companies are equipped and chose to undertake.”
Third-Party Efficacy Studies
Disinfection efficacy validation studies have been extremely important in authenticating R-Zero product performance. Accredited, third-party laboratories have conducted experiments in an environment where variables such as temperature, pressure, humidity, and microbial concentrations were precisely controlled. These studies have allowed our scientists and engineers to understand how our products work under controlled conditions and how the results can be extrapolated to the external environment for our customers.
In 2020, Bioscience Laboratories, Inc., conducted efficacy studies for our flagship product, the R-Zero Arc. The laboratory used methods established by the American Society of Test Materials (ATSM) and recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for evaluating the efficacy of disinfection strategies:
- ASTM E1053-20: Standard Test Practice to Assess Virucidal Activity of Chemicals Intended for Disinfections of Inanimate, Nonporous Environmental Surface
- ASTM E1152: Standard Test Method for Efficacy of Sanitizers Recommended for Inanimate, Hard, Nonporous Non-Food Contact Surfaces
- ASTM E3135-18: Standard Practice for Determining Antimicrobial Efficacy of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation Against Microorganisms on Carriers with Simulated Soil
The results of the study showed that Arc successfully reduced microbial loads of Escherichia coli, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Human Coronavirus Strain 229E, and Feline Calcivirus Strain F9, an FDA approved surrogate for Human Norovirus, at an average of 99.99 percent after seven minutes at eight feet.
In 2021, Aerosol Research and Engineering Laboratories conducted clinical efficacy studies for the R-Zero Beam. In separate studies, the laboratory evaluated the Beam in an environmental test chamber where known concentrations of T1 Non-Enveloped dsDNA virus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella aerogenes were introduced. The Beam achieved a 99.99 percent reduction of microbial loads for the three test organisms in 60 minutes or less.
In 2021, Aerosol Research and Engineering Laboratories also conducted clinical efficacy studies for the R-Zero Vive. In separate studies, the laboratory evaluated the Vive in an environmental test chamber where known concentrations of T1 Non-Enveloped dsDNA virus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella aerogenes were introduced. The Vive achieved a 99.99 percent reduction of microbial loads for the three test organisms in 120 minutes or less.
Most recently, Microchem Laboratories, an EPA and FDA GLP-compliant testing organization, challenged the R-Zero Arc with Candida auris and Clostridiodes difficile in separate studies. Both organisms are a serious concern for health care professionals as they are easily transmitted from person to person, and they both have become resistant to antibiotics used to fight infection. Results indicated a 99.99 percent reduction for both viruses in their respective studies. These microorganisms are significant as they encompass the full range of UV susceptibility, from easy-to-inactivate viruses to hard-to-inactivate spores, including the most important nosocomial threats in healthcare.
The results of these clinical efficacy studies demonstrate how effectively R-Zero products can reduce viable microorganisms in indoor spaces. Since only viable microorganisms can cause infection, an occupant’s risk for exposure may be reduced which in turn may improve their overall health. Laboratory clinical efficacy studies are only one piece of the puzzle. Field studies must also be conducted to determine how R-Zero products perform in specific environments where variables are not as easily controlled.
According to Koutras, “R-Zero addresses these variables by combining state-of-the art technology with strict adherence to EPA’s certification and testing requirements for UV-C devices, ensuring that end-users benefit fully from the germicidal power of light with a virtually non-existent risk of accidental exposure.”
R-Zero Environmental Field Studies
To complement the research completed by third party laboratories, the R-Zero Science Team actively conducts field research in a variety of environments. Research of this nature helps further validate the efficacy of our product line under real world conditions, it helps the R-Zero Science Team refine research testing protocols, and it helps paint a complete picture of air quality in indoor environments. Environmental field studies pose a number of challenges due to constantly fluctuating variables such as temperature, humidity, air velocity, and particulate concentrations. To help reduce the impact of these variables, R-Zero has made significant investments in the most current, sophisticated analytical instruments available to collect viruses, bacteria, or fungi that may be suspended in air or deposited on surfaces. In addition, activities conducted in the field follow recommended testing protocols reported in peer-reviewed scientific literature, by ACGIH, and AIHA. While environmental testing results of this nature can be highly variable, the R-Zero Science Team carefully designs experiments specific for the test environment to ensure success.
One specific field study conducted in 2021 at an elementary school in Tennessee examined the ability of Arc to reduce microbial loads on surfaces. Surfaces in a designated classroom were sampled to determine counts of aerobic bacteria present prior to Arc disinfection. Arc was activated and ran through its disinfection cycle. The same surfaces were swabbed after disinfection and the results showed a 99 percent reduction in microbial loads with statistical significance.
Field study data combined with laboratory study data helps the team understand the overall health of an environment, and it allows us to make recommendations on which products may be beneficial in a specific space. Field studies have also been conducted across the country at school systems, healthcare, and commercial facilities. R-Zero is also collaborating with researchers at two Ivy League universities in research related to air disinfection using its upper-room UVGI product Beam and far-UV product Vive.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that we were completely unprepared for an event of this nature and magnitude. The lack of scientific knowledge related to the virus and subsequent prophylaxis left healthcare professionals scrambling for resources as much of the population developed fear and anxiety. COVID-19 will never be completely gone; rather, it will continue to evolve and infect the population much like the variety of Influenza viruses that cause morbidity at mortality every year. We have already seen this occur with the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron COVID-19 variants. Medical and public health professionals will reach a point where they successfully control COVID-19 and learn to successfully manage its pathogenesis. Unfortunately, once that happens, other microorganisms or threats will emerge from the shadows, ready to infect the population. If you conduct a quick review of disease history across the world, you will quickly see that this is inevitable. Smallpox, Polio, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Zika Virus, and Ebola Virus are just some examples. Adults, children, and the elderly will all be at risk for infection, making products that are part of the R-Zero ecosystem necessary to combat the invading viruses. We at R-Zero will continue to innovate and produce world class products and conduct sound research to ensure that we are ready to do our part in helping protect and improve the health of the population.
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