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A Safer Surface Fights COVID-19 in the Air and on Surfaces

A Safer Surface applies treatment using an electrostatic method that gets into all of the nooks and crannies, and the West Hartford-based business also offers air purification systems. Courtesy photo

A West Hartford business is using a combined air and surface treatment system to create safer environments.

By Keith Griffin

Restaurants across Connecticut, including in West Hartford Center, are re-opening their doors after COVID-19 outbreaks thanks to the efforts of A Safer Surface: a local company providing validated scientific virus fighting tools.

It’s a business that got its start in part due to one of its founders being immunocompromised. That strengthens Dr. Barry Gelber’s resolve to fight the pandemic that spreads so easily through the air.

Dr. Barry Gelber, founder of A Safer Surface. Courtesy photo

Fortuitous timing and the right circumstances led to the formation of A Safer Surface earlier this year. Doctor Gelber, a retired periodontist, and his sons, Jonathan and Lonnie, were looking for a business to start. The Gelber sons had recently left corporate IT positions and Gelber retired after nearly 40 years following a stem cell treatment for leukemia that left his immune system compromised.

“I was looking for something where I could make a difference,” he said in a phone interview with We-Ha.com.

The Gelbers have built their business around systems that tackle COVID-19 on surfaces and in the air. “This virus can live on surfaces for a while and live in your ventilation system. Turning on the heat will spread it,” Gelber said.

Their systems can kill 99.9999% of 47 different species of pathogens on hard surfaces, which makes the EPA-approved treatment effective against more than just the coronavirus. A Safer Surface comes into a facility, does its electrostatic cleaning (think deep kill) and then, if requested, installs the air purifiers.

Gelber said their comprehensive disinfectant solution program treats both surfaces and the air. Most companies will usually do one or the other. Attacking both is key to fighting the transmission. “I think we’re unique in that we have the most comprehensive offers,” he said.

The electrostatic cleaning is an important element of the fight, Doctor Gelber explained. It’s similar to how cars are painted. The treatment is evenly applied and gets into all nooks and crannies. “That’s better than any other sprayer you can do,” he added.

A Safer Surface doesn’t like to discuss what it does for individual clients. But Billy Grant, owner of Restaurant Bricco on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center, confirmed he had hired the company to spray the surfaces at Bricco and install an air purification system.

Restaurant Bricco in West Hartford, October 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“I understand that it purifies 98% of the air,” Grant said. After being closed for the past two weeks due to two employees testing positive for COVID-19, Grant said he wanted to take any precautions he could before reopening Saturday and has confidence in the products offered by A Safer Surface.

“I’ve done everything I can to make things as safe as possible. This is just another way of keeping things as safe as possible,” Grant said.

Currently, A Safer Surface has only one West Hartford client. Most of its business is centered along the shoreline where it is working with a restaurant-consulting group.

Gelber likes to explain the differences among cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.

Cleaning is removing soil like dirt on a counter. Sanitizing involves using a solution like hand sanitizer that is 99.9% effective. “We don’t really clean. We’re not janitorial at all. We’re a disinfection solutions company,” he said.

Disinfecting involves a solution that is 99.999% effective. In order to be an effective disinfectant, the solution needs the extra 9s after the decimal point which Gelber said makes it multiple times more effective.

On its website, A Safer Surface has further explanation of the science behind its methods, as well as videos showing their application.

A Safer Surface applies treatment using an electrostatic method that gets into all of the nooks and crannies, and the West Hartford-based business also offers air purification systems. Courtesy photo

A tip he likes to share is to let any cleaning solution dry naturally. Don’t wipe it up after application. “When it dries, it is no longer killing,” he said.

Something else Gelber likes to stress is his products aren’t just for businesses. They can also be used in homes or vehicles to keep the air clean.

A Safer Surface will continue as a viable business, Gelber said, even after a vaccination is distributed. “It’s a mindset,” he explained. “It could turn out we need to get COVID vaccinations annually. People will be looking for proof businesses have done all they can before they go inside.”

Gelber has one other caveat. While hand washing is an important part of the fight against COVID-19, you might want to avoid using public bathrooms not equipped with air filtration systems. Bathrooms are spaces where people might take their masks off for various reasons. The aerosols from the disease can linger in the air, which could increase the chances of infection.

More information is available by contacting A Safer Surface at [email protected] or by calling 860-967-0559.

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