SINGAPORE: Israeli biotechnology company BetterAir is aiming to capture a slice of Asia's burgeoning air purifier market as it brings its products to Singapore for the first time.
According to Research and Markets, the Asia Pacific market is the fastest growing and will account for 35 per cent of the global market share by the end of 2023.
BetterAir’s president for North America Taly Dery explained during a recent interview with Channel NewsAsia that Singapore is a good market as it has one of the highest rates of asthma and allergies in the world. Parents are also increasingly particular about the environments their infants and young children live in.
About 5 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of children here have asthma, according to the Ministry of Health's website.
The company which was founded in 2011 launched its probiotics-based air purifiers in the local market on Thursday (Jan 17).
It claims that spraying the air at regular intervals with its proprietary “good bacteria”, which it has named Enviro-Biotics, improves indoor air quality and prolong the cleanliness of indoor surfaces. They do so by consuming contaminants and allergens such as dead skin cells, dust mite excrement and pet dander which happen to be food for the bad bacteria.
This will keep the latter from growing out of hand, helping prevent illnesses and allergies from rearing up.
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In the interview, Ms Dery said she has spent a long time battling severe allergies, particularly to dust mites. During that time, she was sneezing all the time regardless of what environment she was in.
Finding a solution to her health woes has not been easy.
“I tried every product in the market (for my allergies) for two years (but nothing worked),” the 42-year-old Israel-born entrepreneur shared.
That was until she was introduced to BetterAir’s probiotics-based air purifier. Ms Dery shared that given her sensitivity to mould and bacteria in the environment, she knows quite quickly whether an air purifier works or not.
She stopped sneezing after using it for a week.
A third-party study by US-based lab EMSL Analytical which looked at the impact of probiotics on allergens found in homes appeared to corroborate her experience. The study found that pet and cockroach allergens were reduced by 100 per cent while two unnamed allergens saw similar results after a month.
However, the positive effect of BetterAir’s product is not universally accepted. A 2016 article by US media outlet Vice’s health site Tonic pointed out that the evidence that this process actually works is “scant at best”, and the author’s personal experience with the device yielded no difference.
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“IF SINGAPORE IMPLEMENTS, THEN EVERYONE WILL”
The BetterAir executive is undaunted by the sceptics, however, and shared how there are plans to introduce its products to more commercial settings such as hospitals and airplanes in the future.
Hospitals, in particular, are a key customer demographic for BetterAir given Ms Dery’s harrowing personal experience.
She recounted how she came down with a major infection in 2014, two weeks after undergoing surgery in a hospital.
“I actually collapsed suddenly,” Ms Dery said, adding she found out she was infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) due to her initial hospital stay.
The issue of patients suffering from secondary infections such as MRSA from hospitals is one that authorities here are paying attention to. According to a local study released last year, 11.9 per cent of the 5,415 adult patients in 13 acute hospitals here caught an infection while being treated for other conditions.
Her colleague and Southeast Asia CEO Amir Yaar said in the same interview that there are plans to deepen its presence here, with the possibility of setting up an R&D lab if there is support from the relevant parties.
“We chose Singapore as everything here is clean and green … and it embraces good technology,” Mr Yaar said.
“If Singapore implements (our product), then everyone (in the region) will.”