Allergy Standards aims to set a new benchmark for good air quality
More than 20 years ago, while working as an emergency pediatrician in a Dublin hospital, John McKeon noticed a disturbing trend.
Parents came to the hospital complaining that their child had an allergic reaction to dust or was sensitive to chemicals in everyday products like textiles and they wanted to know if there were any better brands among which Choose.
McKeon decided to do something about it and came up with the idea of developing a set of product standards that would give consumers information on the compliance of products with certain criteria in the field of respiratory protection.
More than 20 years later, Allergy Standards, the company he started, continues to grow based on the same fundamental idea that motivated its founding.
“If you have a food allergy or are vegan, you want something that’s clearly identifiable as being free of allergens or animal products,” said John Ryan, the company’s director since 2017.
“But there was nothing like it in the area of respiratory allergies or asthma. So John’s idea was to develop technical standards and put a certification mark on them so that people could see which products met those standards.
Allergy Standards has accumulated a long list of clients in a range of industries, including manufacturers of washing machines, air filters and vacuum cleaners. Dyson, Dulux and LG are just three of the global companies that use allergy standards to test and certify their products.
But the company, which is backed by Enterprise Ireland and operates primarily in the US market, has now broadened its focus “beyond allergy certification and into general good air quality”, Ryan said.
It divides its activity into three broad categories. It develops technical standards, performs product testing for certification purposes and licenses intellectual property to its clients.
“Products like paint are already heavily regulated, so many chemicals and volatile organic compounds can’t be used,” Ryan said. “But if you have a respiratory allergy, you need products that are below minimum safety standards to be suitable for you. What we have done is develop a substandard level of sensitivity of the industry, so that the products meet higher standards.
In 2019, the company won an innovation award from the American Chamber of Commerce because of the standards it had developed. Today, he looks to the future with optimism, having recently launched an online academy to educate businesses on the importance of good indoor air quality.
Allergy Standards currently employs nine people directly and contracts out some testing work. “Our vision for the next five years is to double the business and then double it again,” Ryan said.
“We are particularly focused on online education, which will complement the services we offer and help brands better connect with their customers.”
Although Covid-19 presented operational challenges to the company, it also made people realize the importance of good air quality, Ryan said.
“Everyone has realized the need for cleanliness when it comes to our air. For consumers, the desire for traceability, transparency and ethical production is greater than ever. It’s a growing market and it’s only getting bigger.