Nova Scotia

Cape Breton seafood processors invest in air cleaning technology

Seafood processing facilities in Cape Breton are investing in air-cleaning technology to help keep workers safe from COVID-19.

Victoria Co-operative Fisheries is spending $80,000 on air purification systems

A bald man with a moustache.
Osborne Burke, the president and general manager of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries, says they're spending upwards of $80,000 on air purification systems. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Seafood processing facilities in Cape Breton are investing in air cleaning technology to help keep workers safe from COVID-19.

Victoria Co-operative Fisheries in Neil's Harbour is spending more than $80,000 on air purification systems for its processing facility, offices and worker accommodations.

"We were in the middle of a major overhaul at our processing facility with new equipment and a building addition," said general manager Osborne Burke on Thursday. "We believed it was the right way to go. Timing was right. Let's install it while we're doing construction and have it operational for the 2021 season."

The air purifiers, using NASA-inspired technology, have been produced for several years by the Dallas-based company Aerus.

Prior to the pandemic, they were in use in the Maritimes in various industries — everywhere from restaurants to offshore supply vessels, according to Desmond Walsh, president of Canadian distributor PFS Health Solutions, based in St. John's.

Safety measures will remain in place

The technology works by creating hydroxyls, similar to those created naturally by sunlight, and circulating them through a space, said Walsh. The hydroxyls attach themselves to viruses and other bacteria, both on surfaces and in the air, and render them inert.

Late last year, PFS Health Solutions claimed the purifiers are more than 99.9 per cent effective at killing SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19.

Walsh said they're also effective against E. coli, salmonella and Listeria — another benefit for seafood processing.

Safety measures at Victoria Co-operative Fisheries that were implemented last year will remain in place, said Burke. They include daily temperature screening, face masks and shields, and panels between workers on the production line.

"We may have been zero to 60. Now we're to 100 with this technology," he said.

PFS Health Solutions has also signed a deal with A&L Seafood in Louisbourg, and it's talking with several other seafood processors in Nova Scotia, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the air purifiers are already in use in some plants.

"Business has certainly started to pick up, no doubt," said Walsh. He said in his three years in business, January of 2021 was the company's busiest month to date.