Startup brings technology to COVID-19 fight

Safe Science uses software and analytics to disinfect work environments.
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Jeremy and Janice Lehman run Safe Science, a business that is using three complementary techniques to disinfect workplaces. Courtesy Kira Lehman

A startup company in Grand Rapids is bringing science and technology together to help businesses and organizations fight against COVID-19.

Funded by investors such as the Lehman family, Safe Science, a science-based facility health service, started offering cleaning services about four months ago to assisted living facilities, food processors, offices, residential properties, law firms, manufacturers and retail stores in Michigan using a non-traditional cleaning method.

“We saw an unmet need in the market where janitorial and building services companies struggle to bring an evidence-based approach,” said Jeremy Lehman, interim general manager for Safe Science. “We built a team of registered sanitarians, licensed with the state of Michigan, and food safety scientists from leading food processors.”

The registered sanitarians have led disinfection initiatives remediating e. coli, listeria and salmonella with the state of Michigan. Lehman said Safe Science developed a system integrating three complementary techniques:

  • Applying concentrated ethyl alcohol (the same type used in hand sanitizer) to high touch surfaces.
  • Electrostatic fogging that causes droplets of an EPA-approved solution to wrap around and evenly coat surfaces.
  • Pulsed xenon ultraviolet light which is more effective than traditional UV because it emits a broad spectrum of radiation that more closely replicates the sun.

“Software and analytics play a central role ensuring precise, consistent protection,” he said. “Technicians use a mobile app capturing each step implementing the system. We test surfaces with third-party labs to independently verify the absence of pathogens. All actions and test results are stored in a database for traceability and audit. We then provide an interactive safety dashboard on a tablet which shows how, when and why people can use a building with confidence.”

Some of the businesses Lehman said have used the Safe Science services include SpeakEZ Lounge, Mika Meyers law firm, Maya Mexican Grill and Olive’s, among others.

As of July 31, over 2 million people in Michigan have been tested for the virus and there have been 80,887 confirmed cases which has resulted in 6,191 people dying.

“As companies re-open and COVID levels spike again, employees and consumers need to feel safe and comfortable to be productive,” said Jan Lehman, board member at Safe Science. “Our science-based sanitization system helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, fulfills government guidelines and is environmentally healthy.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, a potential vaccine has entered the third phase of trials, which are designed to evaluate if an investigational vaccine can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 in adults. 

The vaccine is mRNA-1273 and it was co-developed by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, per NIH.

“Although face coverings, physical distancing and proper isolation and quarantine of infected individuals and contacts can help us mitigate SARS-CoV-2 spread, we urgently need a safe and effective preventive vaccine to ultimately control this pandemic,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Results from early-stage clinical testing indicate the investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine is safe and immunogenic, supporting the initiation of a Phase 3 clinical trial. This scientifically rigorous, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is designed to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 and for how long such protection may last.”

While the government works on finding a proven vaccine for COVID-19, Safe Science is continuing to grow and is looking to open offices in New York, New Jersey, Orange County, California and Tampa, Florida to fight the coronavirus and other pathogens.

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