Local inventor rolls out green disinfection innovations vs. COVID-19

There’s no stopping the Magus of the Seven Seas, Cagayan de Oro’s Pride and representative to the Parthenon of game changing inventors like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison.

The younger generation knows Engr. Elpidio M. Paras better as the man behind two of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and the Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort at Opol, Misamis Oriental.

But they have no idea how the magic started long before he graduated as a mechanical engineer from De La Salle University in 1974 thanks to a scholarship from Del Monte Philippines, how the ideas came thick and fast to eventually bring the wonders of satellite TV to Cagayan de Oro and later cable television, both firsts in Mindanao.

Now at this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Magus of the Seven Seas has again risen to the occasion with three innovations to help mitigate the adverse health and economic effects of the coronavirus on the populace.

UC-1 Pres Elpie Paras has repurposed 7 Seas Waterparks’ Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce Sodium Hypochlorite solution when diluted can be used as a surface disinfectant.

Practical Magic

First off, last March 31st, Paras announced in a Facebook post the successful commissioning of the Seven Seas Waterpark’s Chlorinsitu IIa machine to produce 815 liters daily of Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl) solution daily.

“While it was intended to keep our wave pool sanitized for the summer, it is now repurposed to supply a good quantity of chlorine-based disinfectant for use by the community,” Paras said.

When its daily output of NaOCl is diluted with water, the machine can produce the equivalent of 7,000 Liters of surface disinfectant in a day.

“We are working with the XU Chemistry department to properly mix this into a safe and effective product for use by our frontliners, hospitals and community checkpoints,” Paras said.

Then, on April 13, Paras rolled out two more innovations with a post on his social media page.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines and the worldwide transmission of this pandemic, the safety of both patients and medical frontliners has always been the subject of intervention and studies on how to best reduce the occurrence of infection in medical facilities, hospitals, isolation rooms and the like,” Paras noted.

Engr. Elpie Paras presents his latest innovation the ParaSafe Transportable Ultraviolet Disinfection Chamber

Green Disinfecting

There have been a number of proprietary solutions and products for disinfection based on UV-C radiation used for cleaning and disinfecting hospitals over the last decade as epidemics like SARS, MERS CoV, and H1N1 affected several countries.

Although UV treatments have been used for disinfection since the mid-20th century, this technology become more reliable only recently as a consequence of the longer lifespan of UV lamps. The use of UV-C is a chemical free and low-cost procedure, which represents a green alternative method for disinfection.

“The contribution of this equipment to the conditioning of hospital areas makes these systems useful for other kinds of spaces that require periodical disinfecting. The spaces which require control of the presence of microorganisms need effective, fast and economical controls, and also, that can be used on a frequent basis,” Paras noted. “When the growth of microorganisms and pathogens is not under control, they can increase the severity of infections and morbidity.”

To address this urgent need, Paras constructed a prototype low cost, portable room disinfection device based on Ultraviolet-C Irradiation technology, using locally available materials.

“The state of community quarantine in many localities including our own (Cagayan de Oro City) has affected the sourcing of more sophisticated devices and components that would be used for automated or remote control of the proposed device,” he noted further. “The system here described is easily built using common tools and materials and is scalable to generate higher ultraviolet dosages by adding more UV-C lamps.”

Dubbed the “ParaSafe Transportable Ultraviolet Disinfection Chamber”, the collapsible cabin measuring 2m x 2.5m can be located near isolation facilities in hospitals so that PPEs, gowns, footwear, masks and medical devices can be sterilized quickly, safely and economically in minutes.

ParaZap portable wheeled UV-C Room Disinfection Unit

“The well known ultraviolet sanitizing method employed by this device affects a very wide range of microorganisms and it has advantages compared to chemical based-sanitizing methods,” Paras said.

To avoid or minimize the use of chemical agents that may be harmful to the surfaces of hospital rooms and minimize the impact on the environment, Paras built a mobile device which permits periodical irradiation of rooms with UV-C, to eliminate and prevent biological contaminants.

UV-C radiation inactivates microorganisms causing DNA damage by producing cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), altering DNA structure, and thus interfering with DNA replication. This has been effective and requires less personal than the manual cleaning and disinfection based on chemical agents.

Older methods of disinfection for large areas include the use gaseous agents (formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, etc.) which are hazardous and require an air flow pattern. Likewise, liquid agents, such as sodium hypochlorite that are also used for disinfection must be carefully removed after being applied and may damage exposed materials such as delicate electronic devices.

However, Paras cautioned UV is not suitable for disinfecting humans since it can harm the skin and eyes under prolonged exposure. It is intend solely to disinfect PPEs, masks, surgical gowns, and footwear.

“The external tower signal light with buzzer indicates Active status of UV-C lamps, minimizing unnecessary prolonged exposure of uncovered skin and unprotected eyes to UV rays which could produce sunburn-like exposure. An emergency stop button is also available to turn off the lamps if needed,” he added.

The second innovation, dubbed the “ParaZap” is a portable wheeled UV-C Room Disinfection Unit (RDU) which reduces the turnaround times for operating theaters, Intensive Care Units (ICUs), delivery rooms and facilities requiring a germ-free environment to operate.

“In minutes of exposure to UV-C light, pathogens, bacteria and viruses can be rendered inactive,” Paras noted. “A surprising side effect of using mercury based UV germicidal lamp tubes is the production of minute quantities of Ozone, a scientifically known oxidizer which breaks down bacteria, amoeba and the like.”

He added that UV technology, Ozonization and onsite Chlorine production using salt, are some of the state-of-the-art sciences currently used at the Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort (dubbed “Mindanao’s Showcase of Sustainable Tourism”) to keep customers safe while they enjoy the facility.

Paras has written Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) Chief Dr. Jose Chan about his intent to donate the ParasSafe disinfection cabin and ParaZap RDU to NMMC and is just waiting for a response.

NMMC in Cagayan de Oro City is the sole apex referral hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Northern Mindanao (Region X).

Should the situation call for it, Paras said they can fabricate more UV solutions to close the supply gap although the supply of UV-C germicidal lamps may need to be imported since there are hardly any available in Cagayan de Oro. (RMB)

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