New tech that fights airborne diseases to be tested locally

New clean dust air filters for vacuum cleaner

By Jeff McDonald

Special to The Daily Courier

A new technology designed to eradicate airborne diseases could be coming soon to the Interior Health Authority.

And the unusual part is, it could be stored in the artwork on the waiting room walls and the curtains of hospital emergency departments, which would act like fly strips to attract up to 70 per cent or more of airborne disease particles.

Dr. Dee Taylor is the IHA’s corporate director of research, and she’s part of a partnership that includes the IHA, Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, UBC Okanagan and St. Paul’s Hospital working to test and implement the new technology.  

The technology is called C-POLAR, and Taylor says results so far are encouraging. “The really exciting project we’re doing is testing the technology in artwork on the walls. By positively charging the artwork, it acts like a fly strip for airborne particles, and we’re finding really good results with that in terms of reducing airborne viruses and fungus,” she said. “The technology is versatile and can be used to treat cloth and paint in health care facilities. There’s usually not a lot of extra space in those facilities, so we’re testing to see what’s practical and useful.”

Taylor is excited by the potential of the C-POLAR technology to drastically reduce infections in health care facilities. She said it makes those facilities much safer for both patients and health care workers, and the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the need for it.

“When this partnership started two years ago, we were in the middle of the pandemic, so the importance of addressing infection control issues in health care facilities is huge,” she said. “For all of us who have been through the pandemic, we can see how this could have some very promising applications.”

C-POLAR stands for catatonic polarization. Headquartered in the U.S., C-POLAR’s website says their technology is in place in hospitals around the world.

There isn’t a timeline for when the technology will be in place in IHA facilities, but Taylor says it will be “soon,” and that it’s cost-effective.

Taylor noted that the strong team approach with all project partners has been critical to the project’s success, which started with a grant from the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.

“It’s so exciting when we can be on the cusp of something like this. The C-POLAR experience in B.C. has been a demonstration of how ethical, effective and innovative partnerships can come together and mobilize to seek solutions, as well as test those solutions in real world settings,” she said.