Founded in 1988 and based in Ontario, Canada, Creative Carriage is an industry-leading manufacturer and supplier of wheelchair accessible vehicles, specializing in custom, low-floor van conversions and consistently working to innovate with vehicle designs while raising the bar for industry safety.
From early on, the Creative Carriage team has taken a proactive role in the promotion and development of design and safety standards within the industry and is actively involved in a number of organizations and regulatory bodies. In addition, President Bob Nunn has been a member of the CSA D409 Committee since 1990 and has been the committee chair for over 15 years. He has also served as both the Canadian and American President of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA).
“All of that experience and involvement with those organizations has really built up our core competencies when it comes to safety regulatory requirements,” said VP of operations, Darryl Nunn. “And that level of involvement really gets your eyes well attuned to innovation and where things are going.”
When COVID-19 hit, it was no different. In March of 2020 the Creative Carriage team began to hear from customers demonstrating huge concern for both their riders and their driving staff. As a supplier of wheelchair accessible vehicles, many of Creative Carriage’s customers, such as group homes, commercial patient transfer operators or non-emergency ambulances, are responsible for transporting highly vulnerable individuals. As a result, Creative Carriage was keen to provide an innovative and effective solution as quickly as possible.
“They were really concerned about protecting everyone on the vehicle,” Nunn said. “We had lived through SARS first and now COVID, and we were just doing so many different things to try to fight against the spread of human pathogens. When Aereus Technologies’ CuVerro Shield™ came along, we just thought it was such a natural non-chemical technology fit between our van offering and a product like this that can help protect the passengers riding.”
Aereus Technologies’ CuVerro Shield™ is a technology solution of antimicrobial copper alloy which starts to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria* upon contact. Many studies have successfully shown that copper ions are highly effective at killing many superbugs. From that knowledge base, Aereus developed proprietary techniques to deploy a solid layer of copper on surfaces in a permanent, low-cost, and aesthetically pleasing way.
CuVerro® was the first solid surface material to be granted “antimicrobial public health claims” status by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and was also approved to make public health claims with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) in Canada.
“We really were excited by the easy retrofit ability of the Kydex® Thermoplastic covers that would make it an inexpensive add on to existing vehicles in the fleets, immediately supplementing whatever health risk mitigation programs that our customers already had in play and would reduce the amount of hand cleaning and certain surfaces,” Nunn said. “It would also allow us to meet the yellow-colored grab bar regulatory requirement that was in place.”
Nunn had connected with Aereus Technologies executive vice president of sales and marketing, Terry Frank, at a trade show and quickly became interested in the antimicrobial properties of the product.
The antimicrobial copper science is straightforward. CuVerro Shield is applied to stanchions or other touchpoints on a bus. When a bacteria cell meets with the copper surface, the bacterium recognizes copper ions as an essential nutrient, permitting the ions to enter the cell. This ruptures the bacteria cell’s outer membrane and interferes with its normal functions, causing cell death. Copper ions will also impede the bacteria cell’s cell respiration/metabolism. This can oftentimes cause irreparable DNA damage to the cell, making it unlikely for the bacteria will develop any future resistance to the alloy.
“To see the application was really interesting and then to see the Kydex® Thermoplastic covers that they developed and hearing that there was a good amount of thought and understanding that went into the product development was very exciting,” Nunn said. “I’m always on the lookout for new things and I was like, wow, this is really interesting.”
According to Frank, agencies are “delightfully surprised” at the efficacy and low costs associated with antimicrobial copper, and he is hopeful that its use will spread rapidly among transit systems in North America.
“Compared to what agencies are going through today with sanitizers and disinfection, the incremental costs of antimicrobial copper are a radical improvement,” he said. “And when the pandemic is over – and provided agencies keep surfaces clean and free of debris – these antimicrobial copper surfaces will continue to function for the life of a vehicle.”
Harsh sanitizing agents can prove damaging to transit vehicles as well as potentially exposing riders to harmful chemicals. With agency staff spending so much additional time on disinfection and sanitization, Nunn felt that adopting the technology seemed like a no brainer. “The agencies are spending so much time constantly cleaning, when they can put this product in and just follow the standard cleaning protocols, while this product self-cleans in between cleanings and overnight,” Nunn said. “A lot of the mandates are being let go of, but we still need that public protection, and this is just a product that passively protects. It’s just there and it works.”
It should be noted that the EPA has already approved (EPA Reg. # 82012-1) Group 1 antimicrobial copper alloys for having supplemental residual efficacy claims against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and testing submittals continue for antimicrobial copper alloy Groups 2-5.
*See full details at www.aereustech.com
Kydex® Thermoplastics is a registered trademark of SEKISUI KYDEX, LLC and is used with permission. CuVerro® and CuVerro Shield™ are registered trademarks of GBC Metals LLC and are used with permission.