HEMLOCK — It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly detrimental impact on just about every area of commerce.
With lockdowns and safety guidelines apt to change at any moment, many business owners are searching for solutions to the instability. Will Ouweleen, vintner at the O-Neh-Da winery on Hemlock Lake, believes he’s found the answer.
O-Neh-Da specializes in sacramental wines for local houses of worship and was affected by church closings at the height of the pandemic. This prompted Ouweleen to research how to best protect both his product and visiting customers. That’s when he stumbled upon ActivePure Technology, an air-filtration technology that, according to its website, claims to destroy “over 99.9% of airborne SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, in just 3-minutes.”
ActivePure’s air filtration systems, which received a Certified Space Technology seal by the Space Foundation, claim to convert oxygen particles in the air through a process that converts them into oxidizers. Those converted oxidizers are then released back into the room, where they eliminate DNA and RNA viruses, such as COVID-19.
ActivePure has made recent headlines due to its newly appointed chief medical and science advisor, Dr. Deborah Birx. Birx is best known for her recent work on the White House Coronavirus Task Force under former President Trump, as well as her contributions to HIV/AIDS research.
Ouweleen owns three ActivePure units and has been using the machines all day every day in the winery since December. He says the installation isn’t complex: Just plug it into the wall and it will begin to purify the air.
“As people in the wine industry, (winemaking) takes years. So you need to have visibility 36 months at a minimum of how you’re doing to conduct your business. And with these open and close orders and threats of variants ... this technology kills everything.”
With the machines up and running, masks are optional for customers visiting O-Neh-Da’s tasting room.
“It’s their choice,” Ouweleen said. “I think it’s a personal choice. I tell them you’re in a COVID-free environment and you can breathe freely.”
Founded as the Electrolux vacuum company in 1924, the organization underwent rebranding and emerged as ActivePure. Air filtration companies are often brought under scrutiny in regards to the efficacy of their claims, and the ActivePure unit’s secondary option to disinfect spaces via “ozone” is no exception.
According to the EPA, ozone has the potential to worsen asthma and aggravate breathing. While ActivePure cites further scientific study on the success of its machines conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch and Kansas State University, it seems time will tell. But as new technologies present themselves, CDC ventilation guidelines suggest consumers “exercise caution” and “do their homework” before buying into company claims.
Ouweleen feels confident that ActivePure will soon grow in popularity and use, especially with the endorsement of Dr. Birx.
“My great conundrum is why this isn’t newsworthy,” Ouweleen said. “This is big news.”