Prevention is better than cure. This is the motto that healthcare practitioners follow. No wonder that such a statement is particularly fitting in the context of the pharma industry. The objective is to take pro-active measures so you do not allow a specific condition to become more serious than it should be. This mindset is the same that Mike D’Ambra and his company, Innovative Solutions, have been striving for over the years in different industries that they’ve been active in. “Our ProGuard sanitization technology is used in medical facilities and in the food industry to actively eliminate mold, mildew and bacteria pathogens to create clean room environments," he explains. "We have been very successful in helping those sectors which are highly regulated.”
That is why Mike and his team decided to serve the cannabis industry too, as soon as it became legal. “The medical cannabis industry is highly influenced by pharmaceutical. Therefore, the standards that one has to follow in terms of cleanliness and product safety align perfectly with our mentality. We saw there was a huge need in the Cannabis industry for a solution that would allow growers to pro-actively eliminate pathogens and allow them to successfully grow and produce products that could pass stringent microbial lab test regulations”
Fighting cannabis pathogens
In such a new industry, there is a widespread need for knowledge with regards to effective methods and solutions to fight cannabis pathogens. Medical cannabis products cannot be contaminated with any pathogens, as these would inevitably compromise the effectiveness of the medicine. “Patient safety always comes first,” says Mike. “However, contaminated cannabis is not only dangerous for people, but it represents a huge loss for businesses as well. Powdery mildew, botrytis, fusarium: all of these are great enemies for cannabis plants.” Unfortunately, the problem does not end here. Once these sorts of issues arise, the next step is to find a viable solution, which is not particularly easy within the context of the medical cannabis industry, because regulations prevent growers from using any chemical crop protection.
Therefore, the only solution is to use organic and safe crop protection products, but some of these options also come with some challenges. “Many of the air purification solutions use Filtration or UV based products with units placed at the corners of grow rooms," Mike points out. “These are called passive systems, which means these units have to wait for the pathogens to come to them, in order to eventually get killed. The problem with a passive system is that if a mold or mildew pathogen has to fly across the whole room before it gets destroyed, it could potentially contaminate everything that is in its path.” That is why Innovative Solutions has developed a preventive and proactive solution which uses an organic sanitization process that actively seeks out pathogens within grow rooms, and gets rid of them without any damage for plants and is safe for workers.
Proactively killing pathogens
“Our patented ProGuard with MCITM sanitization technology uses an advanced photocatalytic oxidation process, which converts hydrogen molecules into ionized hydro peroxide vapor,” Mike explains. “Basically, our units restructure the air molecules, and redistribute it back into the air, which then are able to chase down and kill mold, mildew and bacteria pathogens on contact. After its job is done, it goes back to its original state of water vapor with no residue left. “What makes the ProGuard technology so effective is that it uses an “Active” process that constantly sends these sanitizing molecules into the cultivation rooms which then sanitizes both the air and surfaces throughout the entire room. Mike explains. “Our active sanitization process is able to seek out and kill pathogens right at the point of origin even on surfaces which includes eliminating mold and mildew spores on the plants, benches, lights and in the air creating a clean room environment that allows their plants to thrive”
Mike and his company Innovative Solutions have been working in the Cannabis industry since 2013 when they started working with several of the first federally licensed cultivators in the Canadian market. Since then, their company has seen tremendous growth and now has their ProGuard technology in some of the largest facilities in the US, Canada and other International markets. Innovative Solutions believe in using a science-based approach and rely on testing to continually improve their technology and create new products for different needs in the Cannabis industry. Mike says: “Our background in the Medical and Food industries taught us how critical testing is to continually learn, improve and validate the efficacy of our technology. Which is why we have invested heavily into performing numerous scientific and Cannabis Field tests to ensure that our customers continue to get amazing results. “
The human element
While the cultivation rooms are typically the customers highest concern, an often over looked issue is the human element that needs to be addressed. According to Mike, “The number one pathogen carriers are human beings,” he explains. “Keeping the grow rooms clean is of the utmost importance – for sure. But what about everything that surrounds that? I am specifically referring to hallways, locker rooms, corridors, trim rooms. From my experience, I have seen that these places are usually some of the dirtiest ones. And exactly because of this, humans can potentially carry pathogens to areas where they should not be present at all.” This is the main reason why Mike really takes care to advise his customers what are the risks they should be aware of and recommends installing the ProGuard units throughout all processing and employee areas in the facility. “One of the most important things to me is to raise growers’ awareness when it comes to cleanliness and pest-free operations and offer them solutions to help prevent those problems. We have been working in this sector for many years, and for many different industries. Our background allows us to know where to look for hidden dangers and we want to give good advice to our customers so they can design their facility for prevention. From a sanitization standpoint, we know what needs to be done.”
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