We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Cartoonist Walt Kelly first penned that quote in a 1960s “Pogo” comic panel and later lent it to a 1970 Earth Day poster. Thanks to environmentally conscious and responsible companies such as Circul-Aire Inc. we now know just how true that statement is.
The Montreal-based business has revealed the full extent upon which we negatively impact our environment – and it goes beyond littering, wasting resources and compromising the ecosystem. The air that we breathe is infested with contaminants and, believe it or not, human beings represent one of the largest contaminant sources. And this is not just because of the products we use (e.g., underarm deodorants that contain aluminum oxide, the fingernail polish remover that contains acetone, the perfumes and colognes that gain their effect through volatile organic compounds, among so many others). It also has to do with our biology: No matter how much we try to set ourselves above the world we live in or deny our basic human physical condition, our bodies emit certain ammonias and gases. And no deodorant spray or perfume will hide the fact that we’re a mammal (indeed, usage only adds to the problem).
“We comprise about 25 percent of the indoor air problem,” indicates Nick Agopian, vice president of sales for Circul-Aire, underscoring this eye-opening information. “There are a lot of things we off-gas simply being a human. Face it, we represent a huge contaminant load.”
But it’s also the things we produce and the work environments we’ve created for ourselves. Agopian supplies just two examples:
- That new-car smell that people profess to love so much: When you breathe in the aroma, you’re filling your lungs with a poisonous mixture.
- People working in commercial and corporate office buildings develop respiratory symptoms at an alarming rate because of poor indoor air quality.
The message is that people don’t realize just how ubiquitous airborne contaminants are. If they did, they’d probably sell the home and head to a distant, remote mountain in a more pristine environment. Agopian understands the impulse. But he hasn’t yet bought his ticket to Tibet. After all, he has an inside track; he knows that the company he works for strives to make the world a safer place, in terms of air quality. Circul-Aire develops and manufactures indoor air treatment solutions designed to optimize health, comfort and productivity – in other words, quality of life.
BORN IN THE ‘60S
Established in the mid-1960s, Circul-Aire was on the job early. The company metaphorically pointed its nose into the air, not only to see which way the breeze blew but also to sniff out any toxins. “During its first year in 1965, the company was involved in the air business,” says Agopian.
Essentially, this meant development of technology involved with moving air. At first a component provider, the company offered particulate filtration and cooling and heating in a single package. As the world moved forward, the company perceived for itself a significantly expanded mission, seeking the true “invisible enemy”: carcinogens – or, again, contaminants – which are invisible because of their microscopic size.
By the end of the decade, the company made a significant shift, into gas-phase filtration. “Now the company is not only focused on moving air but it became involved in everything associated with purifying air,” Agopian relates.
During its course, the company shifted from activator carbon technology (which works on simple absorption that absorbs and holds a contaminant) to the more effective chemical absorption, which absorbs and then chemically destroys the contaminant. This involves neutralization. “With any challenging contaminant, you find its weakest link and use that to break it down,” describes Agopian. “If there’s acid in the air, we impregnate it with a base. If there’s mercury, we impregnate with iodine, which breaks down mercury. That’s how it works.”
This promotes versatility as far as applications and goes well beyond what activator carbon technology can do. “Rather than just absorbing certain contaminant types, you can mix and match different chemicals and solid matrices, no matter the contaminant,” says Agopian.
Circul-Aire continued moving forward in taming contaminants, but it took awhile for the world to catch up. “A quarter of a century after we got involved in this, people finally realized that contaminants need to be controlled,” says Agopian.
PART OF DECTRON
When you’re successful at what you do, it’s inevitable that you’ll attract the interest of a major corporation. And that’s what happened with Circul-Aire, which became an integral part of Dectron Internationale, a Montreal-headquartered conglomerate that addresses not only filtration but cooling, heating, air conditioning, and humidification and de-humidification. “Dectron Internationale is the world’s only company that demonstrates such comprehensiveness,” says Agopian. “Some companies only focus on air conditioning, while others focus solely on filtration, humidification or other areas. Dectron does it all.”
Specifically, Dectron Internationale, a global provider of indoor air quality and HVAC-R products and services to a range of industries and markets, offers the only multi-disciplinary approach that results in a single-source responsibility for meeting or exceeding standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Credit this approach to Ness Lakdawala, Dectron’s president and chief executive officer. The Dectron structure brings together like-minded companies, each with a solid track record of providing air-treatment and filtration equipment. Along with Circul-Aire, these include:
- Dry-O-Thon, a 30-year-old dehumidification equipment company.
- Ecosaire®, which specializes in highly engineered, fully packaged systems for commercial and industrial applications.
- RefPlus, a refrigeration equipment company founded by Lakdawala.
- ThermoPlus Air Inc., a specialty heating and cooling units firm, also founded by Lakdawala.
VAST APPLICATION RANGE
Meanwhile, as far as applications, Circul-Aire runs the gamut from A to Z. “Application is really only limited by someone’s imagination,” says Agopian. “We literally run through the alphabet, starting at places like airports and ending at zoological institutions.”
In between, you’ll find Circul-Aire technology in places like athletic clubs and autopsy rooms, as well as in banks and any place that handles large amounts of money. “One of the most polluted environments is where money is printed. The air is filled with formaldehyde,” reveals Agopian.
Circul-Aire is also found in barbershops and beauty salons, because many of the products these places deploy emit toxic fumes. Running from A to B to C, applications also include correctional facilities, cocktail lounges and clinics. (“One of the most amazing things that we have found is that in in-vitro clinics, artificial insemination is three times more successful in a purified air environment,” says Agopian.) You could then run through the rest of the alphabet and find an application for each letter.
As the application is so vast, the company divided itself into three areas: residential, commercial and industrial. “Here’s how we go to market. We work with consulting engineers, through independent sales representatives, because each product needs to be specifically designed for the clients’ unique application,” explains Agopian. “And that occurs on a global basis.”
Residential, of course, includes homes, while commercial includes locations such as restaurants, lounges, casinos, commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and museums, among other. Industrial includes pulp and paper, petrochemical, process manufacturing, semi-conductor manufacturing, sewage and wastewater treatment, and emergency contaminant scrubber systems.
A major Circul-Aire supplier is Canarm, a Canadian-based business that helps its customer meet it mission. A versatile enterprise, Canarm addresses the needs of several sectors. Beyond providing residential products (e.g., lighting fixtures and ceiling fans), Canarm established itself as a leading global manufacturer of agricultural livestock housing and ventilation equipment. In this regard, its value to Circul-Aire is immeasurable.
Further, with a broad range of air movement and air control equipments, Canarm has expanded its delivery channels and garnered significant contracts – Circul-Aire is but one – and will certainly have enormous impact on a world that its customers impact.
Circul-Aire accomplishes its magic with its Multi-Mix chemical media that provides continuous purification of contaminated air present in the aforementioned environments. Multi-Mix media combines the adsorption properties of activated carbon with the oxidation properties of chemically impregnated alumina. In this way, the chemical media controls corrosive gases that attack delicate process control equipment in heavy industry. It is also used in places such as laboratories and pharmaceutical facilities to eliminate malodorous and nuisance gases that affect people’s health and well being.
With various high efficiency Multi-Mix formulations, Circul-Aire provides the ideal combination of physical and chemical characteristics to meet the specific needs of each application, the company states. The media can be impregnated with numerous chemical agents for selective performance and capacity enhancements.
This points to how Circul-Aire’s in-house laboratory and engineering team research and develop systematic, integrated approaches to complex and ever changing environmental control problems. What comes out of research and development then goes into Circul-Aire’s design and manufacture facilities.
So, don’t think for a moment that you need to run away and hide out in a rain forest somewhere, bereft of clothing and basic products, in order to survive. Circul-Aire is on the job. “During our 40 years of existence, we’ve engaged in a great deal of research that resulted in technological advancements,” says Agopian.