by Melissa Jane Cook


Toilet extraction system is a world first

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Sparking a new wave of innovation in sanitation, Hygizone is an invisible relief to bathroom odours. This toilet extraction system is the first of its kind in South Africa, and a similar extraction system invented for urinals, which has been patented globally, is the first of its kind in the world.

Dylan Ross-Kent, the founder and chief executive of Hygizone, is very excited about these firsts. "I recognised the opportunity to change bathroom experiences by fitting an extraction system into the toilet bowl as opposed to the roof of the toilet stall. Hygizone eliminates odours and bacteria from urinals, so you never have to worry about air fresheners and sprays," he explains.

"What this means is that instead of extracting the air from an extractor situated in the roof of individual stalls, Hygizone has invented an extraction system that fits on to the bowl of the toilet and extracts 'dirty air' directly from the source."

About 10 years ago, Ross-Kent, originally a plumber and electrician by trade, was working as a handyman in the United Kingdom. "I was working in state-of-the-art buildings, but the toilets stank. The idea to extract smells from the toilet bowl came to me; we worked on various ideas, and then refined the prototype."

Bacteria eradication

According to Ross-Kent, biofilm, which is the bacteria found just below water level in all toilets, is known to be very difficult to remove with ordinary cleaners. Worse still, when flushing a toilet, dirty air is forced out of the bowl – and it can reach up to five metres from the toilet. The bacteria can and does land on everything in its path, from drinking cups to toothbrushes. These pathogens can live for a week on surfaces.

"In a study it was found that closing the toilet lid had little effect in reducing the number of bacteria released into the air due to gaps between the top of the porcelain rim and the seat," he adds. "The reality of a home that poses a risk to your family places an even greater burden on consumers to clean their homes more regularly and with a variety of cleaning agents."

Cutting down on air fresheners

"As a commonly used bathroom product, air fresheners and aerosol sprays pose an equally great danger to the family unit." According to the National Resources Defence Council, 12 of 14 fresheners tested contained chemicals known as phthalates that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Even air fresheners marketed as "all-natural" or "unscented" contained the hazardous chemicals.

In addition, air fresheners may contain allergens and volatile organic compounds as well as cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Through its uniquely designed ventilation system, Hygizone drastically reduces a family's reliance on aerosol sprays.

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More sustainable living

Ross-Kent says that testing done by WSP UK Limited proved that conventional extraction systems produced carbon emissions amounting to 367kg a year. "The associated energy cost [totalled] R7 500 per year. This compared to the Hygizone system, that produced annual carbon emissions of 274kg, while reducing the total energy cost to R5 600 per year."

As simple as his invention may seem, it has led to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health recognising the toilet as an essential element in their upgrade of Addington Hospital, the public hospital in Durban. This comes as the department is looking into new infection control mechanisms for patients and staff.

"There has been a great response but it is difficult as it is an invisible thing. If, for example, there was an air conditioner then you could feel hot or cold air. This you can only say, 'It smells', and then you don't really comment when there is no smell in the bathroom. The product goes unnoticed."

Developers have included Hygizone in their property projects across the country, including Atterbury Properties, Growthpoint Properties and Redefine Property. It is also being used in the 90 Grayston Drive upgrade, in the upmarket Joburg suburb of Sandton.

The company recently entered a deal with retail chain Bathroom Bizarre to store its extraction system nationally. "Currently we have awareness campaigns about the product in the UK. Ideally, we would like to take it worldwide," says Ross-Kemp.

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Issue 39