LifeAire Systems sees staggering growth with COVID-19 demand for air purification

One of two LifeAire Systems air purification systems made for Stanford University Medical Center in California back in 2016. PHOTO/FILE –

When Kathryn Worrilow, founder and CEO of LifeAire Systems LLC, began research to create her company, her focus was very specific – in vitro fertilization.

It was a very small market, but one she saw as important to families trying to have children.

But with the arrival of COVID-19, she found herself in the position many in the biotech industry have: a need to focus on the war on viruses. And the impact the demand has had on what was once a small startup is a story any entrepreneur or inventor would dream of.

About a decade ago, Worrilow was a reproductive physiologist working as scientific director of Lehigh Valley Health Network’s in vitro fertilization laboratory when she came up with the idea for LifeAire. She wanted to come up with an air purification system that would bolster the success rate of IVF.

The LifeAire System would kill viruses as small as Anthrax, the smallest of the viruses, to ensure the protection of the delicate, newly created embryos.

Her original LifeAire system was created for that purpose, but she soon saw the benefit of having a higher quality air purification system for overall hospital use, and in long-term care facilities where the residents can be as fragile as those embryos.

She began research and development on ways to take that IVF-specific system and integrate it into HVAC systems for larger health care facilities.

There proved to be a market.

In 2017 St. Luke’s University Health Network added a LifeAire system to its Allentown campus, one of a growing number of health centers to do so.

When pandemic hit in early 2020, demand for air purification was everywhere. The company went from three verticals, IVF, hospitals and long term care facilities to more than 10. LifeAire now has customers ranging from police stations and schools to Broadway theaters, and a large volume of corporate offices.

The growth she has seen by expanding LifeAire’s customer base has been staggering.

Kathryn Worrilow –

“The number of locations in which we now have the LifeAire technology increased 350% from the pre-pandemic time to the current time,” Worrilow said.  “The number of LifeAire products installed increased 700% from the pre-pandemic time to the current time.”

Interestingly, the expansion wasn’t Worrilow’s idea. She was thinking about LifeAire in a wider setting, concentrating her efforts on serving health care providers.

The expansion came from demand. When the pandemic hit she got calls from worried building owners wondering if LifeAire could help protect their employees and customers.

“We weren’t thinking beyond our core verticals,” Worrilow said.  But when asked if it would work, she knew it would based on the research they had already done on the technology. So her answer became “yes.”

“We responded because we wanted to help in any way we could,” she said. “It has been nonstop since a year ago February.”

One of those new corporate customers is Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s TechVentures building in Bethlehem, the place where LifeAire got its start.

Laura Eppler, chief marketing officer for BFTPNEP, said there are many other biotech companies working out of TechVentures that need that protection and the organization wanted to make sure it was offering a safe environment for its clients moving forward.

“Everyone wants to think that this [COVID-19] is a one off, but it probably isn’t,” Eppler said.

The LifeAire system wasn’t chosen because of its relationship with TechVentures.

“We researched to make sure it was the best product for us,” she said.

Knowing the science that went into the development of the system, Eppler said they were confident the LifeAire system was the most effective of the available air purification systems out there.

“COVID-19 is so small it doesn’t always respond to standard preventative technology, but if it can kill Anthrax it can kill COVID-19,” she said.

As with LifeAire’s other clients, the system was retrofitted into TechVenture’s existing HVAC system and is now eliminating 99.9% of pathogens in the air.

Much of Worrilow’s time has been speaking with business and building owners about viral control and steering them to a system that might be smaller or less complicated, but will still suit their needs.

Offering options isn’t slowing demand, however. LifeAire has added staff and outsourced some manufacturing to keep up with the demand for the product.

She’s also working on research and development of new air purification products.

COVID-19 opened the public’s eyes about the threat viruses pose around the globe. She said it is a fight that will continue and a fight she hopes LifeAire Systems can help the world win.

Bethlehem’s LifeAire recognized for role in fighting COVID-19

LifeAire Systems of Bethlehem was originally formed more than 10 years ago to create an air purification system for in vitro fertilization. Now its air purification systems are being used by hospitals and health care systems and is being transformed into a tool against COVID-19.


Another Lehigh Valley company is being recognized by the state for adapting its technology to help in the fight against COVID-19.

LifeAire Systems of Bethlehem was originally formed more than 10 years ago to create an air purification system for in vitro fertilization. Now its air purification systems are being used by hospitals and health care systems and is being transformed into a tool against COVID-19.

In addition to hospitals and senior living facilities using the system to reduce infections, illness, and length of stay, LifeAire has applied its technology to protect dental practices, commercial office spaces, transportation and educational facilities from COVID-19.

LifeAire also used its technology to develop a portable, rapid decontamination unit for N95 masks that kills COVID-19 and other healthcare pathogens within all layers of the mask. More than 1,650 masks can be decontaminated in one day, helping with PPE shortages and reducing overall costs.

Tuesday, it was recognized as part of the state DCED’s “Innovating to Recovery” series.

Kathryn Worrilow, founder and CEO of LifeAire Systems, was joined by DCED’s Deputy Secretary of Technology and Innovation, Steve D’Ettorre, and representatives from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, where her firm was launched.

“Through the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, DCED supports early-stage technology companies and established manufacturers as they help us innovate to recovery from the coronavirus,” said D’Ettorre. “LifeAire is an outstanding example of a young company that has responded swiftly and effectively to this pandemic.”

Worrilow said she was glad that her product could be adapted to fight the pandemic.

“We developed the LifeAire System to solve a significant problem that impacted patient care – the presence of infectious airborne pathogens,” said Worrilow. “We are thrilled that our flagship technology is effective in protecting front-line workers and the general population during the pandemic.”

Earlier this year, DCED announced funding opportunities to support technology-based companies impacted by COVID-19, including the disbursement of $1 million through the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority to each of the four regional BFTPs.

Each BFTP then matched this funding with an additional $1 million and distributed the funding to eligible projects.

LifeAire received $100,000 to continue the development of its products.

“LifeAire’s ability to pivot quickly in applying its technology to address the pandemic is emblematic of early-stage technology firms,” said Doug Engler, BFTP/NEP Lehigh Valley regional manager. “We are pleased to support LifeAire with funding, business and technical support, and key introductions to accelerate its success.”

Local company makes air purification systems that kill COVID-19

LifeAire Systems, an Upper Macungie Township company that creates in-duct air purification systems that remove airborne pathogens such as COVID-19, is looking to produce more. (PHOTO/SUBMITTED) –

It turns out that the air purification systems that one local company has been making for several years to combat the anthrax spore have an increasingly timely and valuable use.

LifeAire Systems, an Upper Macungie Township company that creates in-duct air purification systems that remove airborne pathogens such as COVID-19, is looking to produce more. The company developed the technology for the in vitro fertilization industry and installed it in its first hospital a couple years ago.

“We are doing whatever we can to help,” said Kathryn Worrilow, founder and CEO of LifeAire Systems. “We are in a lot of conversations; we have been getting a lot of calls from people looking to put more aggressive plans in place.”

Her company has also gotten requests to put these systems in tents outside hospitals and healthcare facilities.

LifeAire Systems did not design the systems for residential use but for installing in hospitals, healthcare settings, and senior living facilities. Today, the company installed the technology in more than 50 in vitro fertilization programs in the U.S. and the company completed its first installation in a long-term care facility, Worrilow said. LifeAire could also use the systems for the current COVID-19 pandemic as part of the air handlers that help protect healthcare workers and patients in modular tents that are supporting hospitals.
The company can retrofit the systems into existing air handlers in hospitals, health care settings, and in senior living facilities as part of the solution to address potential future pandemics.

Locally, LifeAire has a purification unit it installed at St. Luke’s Hospital Allentown campus in 2018, the company’s first installation in a hospital. Currently, LifeAire is in discussions about installing more in different campuses, she said.

The LifeAire system at the Allentown campus is on a medical surgery floor. The company designed the air systems to remove airborne pathogens from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning circulation within the space, with the goal of reducing patient and staff exposure to airborne contaminants.

Worrilow, a scientist, said LifeAire has presented the results of recent research about these systems to a leading healthcare journal for publication and presented these results at two health care organizations. The research focused on the impact of the technology on the environment specific to the patient room, length of stay, and economics, she said.

“There were statistically significant reductions in length of stay and improvements in health care economics,” Worrilow said.
LifeAire’s systems complement surface decontamination protocols with a 100% kill/disinfection rate for airborne COVID-19 in one pass through the system.

“Any COVID-19 that goes through our system will be killed completely,” Worrilow said.

LifeAire uses a local company, H.T. Lyons, a mechanical contractor in Upper Macungie Township, to produce these systems. It also has a second supplier.

H.T. Lyons has created nearly all its systems, which includes 50 installations altogether.

“We will be on the supply side going into these new hospital sites,” Worrilow said.

LifeAire’s technology has received 26 issued U.S. and international patents, according to Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, an investor and supporter of LifeAire.
Currently, HEPA filtration, the most common means of air filtration used in health care, does not comprehensively remediate COVID-19.

LifeAire originally designed its system to kill anthrax because of the sensitivity of the human embryo. By setting the bar high, Worrilow said the company created a system that could remove all chemical and biochemical contaminants from the air.

Her company has about nine employees and formed nine years ago, but did not launch this LifeAire System product until five years ago to ensure it had enough proof and data to support it.

In regards to COVID-19, she recommended that each person take individual responsibility.

“It’s our own responsibility to follow this very seriously,” Worrilow said. “We all need to be heeding these precautions. We each have to do the right thing.”