OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 29, 2020 -- An environmental microbiology lab in Oak Ridge is the first U.S. lab to receive accreditation for surface and air analysis of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Assured Bio Labs, LLC, received the accreditation for COVID-19 air testing and COVID-19 surface sampling from AIHA, an organization dedicated to protecting worker health. Its laboratory accreditation program complies with international standards and ensures the quality of laboratory analysis. AIHA, formerly the American Industrial Hygiene Association, announced the accreditation June 23.
Assured Bio Labs, with experience in detecting mold, influenza, and the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, turned its attention to analysis of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in January, spending months calibrating and testing its systems to convert the fragile RNA found in COVID-19 to DNA, which can then be analyzed, explained Edward A. Sobek, president and owner of Assured Bio Labs.
While other labs provide a positive or negative result on COVID-19 surface and air tests, Assured Bio Labs is the only U.S. lab providing results showing the quantity of the virus, he said.
“I wanted a test that tells me how many COVID we find. We wanted to do more than identify. We quantify,” said Sobek. “You end up with more false positives and negatives if you don’t quantify data.”
As businesses, industries, medical centers and public facilities bring employees back to work, care for patients or open to the public, having COVID-19 data for frequently touched surfaces and air inside buildings will be important to assure the health and safety of workers and the public, Sobek said.
“Since March, we have been running samples for local municipalities and for New York City essential businesses in the financial district,” Sobek said. “We recently started testing long-term care facilities to provide management with data needed to protect our most vulnerable group of Americans.”
Two weeks ago, the lab began providing COVID-19 surface and air testing to healthcare facilities in the northeast as they convert COVID-19 patient rooms into standard patient rooms, he said.
“We were detecting COVID in the air in patient rooms,” Sobek said. Engineering solutions focused on air circulation and studies of how the virus travels through air are needed to confront that problem, he added. The company’s web site recently added generic information on COVID counts from its positive air and surface samples.
Assured Bio Labs’ technology includes WhisperCare® , a continuous air monitoring system the size of a Rubik’s cube that tests indoor air for viruses, mold and bacteria using DNA and RNA analysis. M-TRAP®, a patented air sampling cassette developed for rapid capture and analysis of airborne viruses, is used with WhisperCare® for air sampling for COVID-19. Sobek, a microbiologist with more than 20 years of laboratory and field experience, invented the microbial detection technology that he branded as M-TRAP®.
“We are currently using WhisperCare® in firehouses to quickly identify the presence of COVID-19 and prevent widespread infection of crucial first responders,” said Sobek, who has a PhD from Texas Tech University and an MBA from University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business.
For surface sampling, the lab provides swabs to sample commonly touched points in buildings, such as light switches, handrails, doorknobs, and elevator buttons. Besides its COVID-19 Environmental Testing Program, Assured Bio Labs developed a Pre-Post Cleaning Efficacy Test to help verify that cleaning surfaces in workplaces has removed the virus.
“Assured Bio Lab has significantly increased its equipment and capacity to handle COVID-19 testing,” Sobek said.
For more information, contact Assured Bio Labs at its toll-free number, 866-546-1727 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The lab’s web site is https://assuredbio.com.
About Assured Bio Labs
Assured Bio Labs, LLC, has a 5,000-square-foot research laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the heart of the Tennessee Valley Corridor. The Lab’s mission is to protect the air and surfaces in businesses and homes, working through the lab’s commercial services and research and development arms. The commercial services arm offers an AIHA accredited COVID-19 test and tests for molds, allergens, bacteria, and volatile organic compounds at commercial, industrial and residential locations, analyzing data collected by industrial hygienists. Its R&D arm develops products and “new-to-the-world” biotechnology solutions for use in the indoor air quality market and beyond.