A New Chemical Innovation for Good

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By Dr. Altaf Lal; André Fay, PH.D., M.D.; Jack Caravanos, DRPH; Toni Choueiri, M.D.; and Dr. William Esposito, DRPH, CIH | November 17, 2022 << Back to Articles A New Chemical Innovation for Good

The treatment and distribution of drinking water for safe use is a landmark achievement of the 20th century. Up through the end of the 19th century, typhoid fever, dysentery, and cholera killed thousands of Americans every year. Beginning in 1908, cities began treating drinking water with chlorine. Drinking water chlorination and filtration have helped to virtually eliminate these diseases in the United States.

This article is the third in a series from Grignard. Access part one here and read part two here.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regards the disinfection of drinking water as one of the most significant advances in public health.

Almost all drinking water systems in the United States that disinfect their water use some type of chlorine-based process, either alone or in combination with other disinfectants. In addition to controlling disease-causing organisms, chlorination offers several benefits, including:

  • Reducing disagreeable odors
  • Eliminating slime bacteria, molds, and algae that commonly grow in water supply reservoirs, on the walls of water mains, and in storage tanks
  • Removing chemical compounds that have unpleasant tastes and hinder disinfection.

Chlorine levels up to four milligrams per liter (mg/L) or four parts per million (ppm) are considered safe in drinking water. At this level, harmful health effects are unlikely to occur.

EPA—a responsible steward for continued public health

In the early 1970s, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists first determined that drinking water chlorination could form a group of byproducts known as trihalomethanes (THMs), including chloroform. EPA set the first regulatory limits for THMs in 1979. While the available evidence does not prove that such disinfection byproducts in drinking water cause adverse health effects in humans, high levels of these chemicals are certainly undesirable

The potential health risks from these byproducts at the levels at which they occur in drinking water are extremely small in comparison with the real and known risks associated with inadequate disinfection. It has become a profound public health imperative that disinfection not be compromised in attempting to control such byproducts.

A 21st-century public health crisis—and new chemical innovation for good

With the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020, a group of scientists and engineers working with the Grignard Company, the leading producer of theatrical lighting effects products, came up with an exciting idea. In researching the safety of triethylene glycol (TEG), one of the primary ingredients in Grignard’s lighting effects products, they discovered that TEG was effective at killing harmful microorganisms. These scientists and engineers came to think that it would be possible to make a product that could be released into the air at levels that would kill the virus that causes COVID-19.

The science and engineering teams recognized that, if they were successful, a formulation with TEG as an active ingredient could become a valuable, groundbreaking tool in addressing the airborne spread of COVID-19, just as the introduction of chlorine in safe concentrations transformed the safety of United States’ drinking water.

Over the last two years, the science and engineering teams have overseen studies to determine whether such a product was feasible. Grignard Pure LLC, was spun off from Grignard Company LLC to focus on the development of a new airborne antimicrobial. It has sponsored research in multiple laboratories to assess the efficacy of such a product and found that low concentrations successfully killed a wide variety of airborne pathogens.

Multiple tests with the new product, called Grignard Pure®, indicate that it will kill more than 98% of the COVID-19 virus in the air in a few minutes. Commentary on the effectiveness of the product against surrogates of infectious viruses, bacteria, and mold spores can be reviewed in The Journal of Infectious Diseases here.

In addition, the engineering team conducted research to verify that it would be easy and practical to implement. Testing conducted in multiple locations has demonstrated that Grignard Pure can be used in almost any type and size range of indoor space, such as hotel rooms, auditoriums, and indoor arenas.

Finally, knowing that such a product would be safe to use was essential. Nonetheless, the company asked independent experts to assess the safety of the new product for use to combat COVID-19. The three separate reviews listed have evaluated the risks of Grignard Pure, and all have concluded that it poses, at most, minimal risk: Toxicology Risk Assessment, Risk Assessment for Use of Grignard Pure, and Inhalation Exposure to TEG in Grignard Pure Products.

TEG, like chlorine, shows that chemistry, science, and innovation can solve a public health crisis 

The responsible application of chemicals, guided by science in service to improving public health has been a hallmark of American ingenuity. The convergence of chemistry, science, and public health in the early 1900s catapulted America forward in eliminating the spread of deadly waterborne diseases.

Today, in the 2000s, this extensive research indicates that TEG, as an ingredient in Grignard Pure, can be effectively delivered at a concentration that poses little risk, while substantially reducing the level of a dangerous pathogen in the air.  In short, like chlorine, Grignard Pure has the potential to bring significant public health benefits in response to the latest public health crisis. 

About the Author.

Dr. Altaf Lal 
Former Chief Molecular Vaccine Section, CDC

Dr. Altaf Lal has worked at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). During his tenure at CDC, he worked on malaria in Kenya, Brazil, and India. He served as the U.S. health attaché and HHS regional representative for South Asia at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. He also served as the founding CEO of Hilleman Laboratories, which was established to develop low-cost heat-stable vaccines for use in developing countries. In addition, he established the FDA office at the U.S. Embassy in India, where he established close professional relationships with the Indian regulatory authorities for training and conducts of inspections of drug manufacturing sites in India. 

He serves on the board of the RBM Partnership Board (formerly known as Roll Back Malaria), Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), and Foundation for Disease Elimination and Control (FDEC) of India. He also serves as the chairman of the board of Sun Pharma Healthcare Society (SPHS).  

Dr. Lal has published over 240 scientific papers and book chapters. 

André Fay, Ph.D., M.D. 
Professor of Medicine 
PUCRS School of Medicine 

André P. Fay (M.D., Ph.D.) is a medical oncologist dedicated to genitourinary malignancies. He is a professor of Medicine at PUCRS (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul) School of Medicine—ranked as one of the best medical schools in Brazil. He has trained at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston as a research fellow working with clinical and translational research in genitourinary oncology under Dr. Toni K. Choueiri’s and Dr. Matthew Freedman’s supervision. Dr. Fay continues the collaboration with DFCI as a visiting scientist participating in different research projects. His research has been published in high-impact journals. 

Dr. Fay is part of the steering committee for genitourinary (GU) cancers in the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG). This cooperative group is creating opportunities for clinical and translational research in Brazil and Latin America. He is the PI of investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored phase II and phase III trials on genitourinary malignancies. Dr. Fay is heavily committed to teaching, training, and mentoring in the field of medical oncology and has led a research group in oncology registered in the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil). He is also one of the founders, and the scientific director of BIO education, a platform committed to continuous medical education in Brazil and Latin America. In addition, Dr. Fay has received three MERIT Awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). 

He was the chief of the medical oncology department at PUCRS Hospital from 2017 to 2021. He is the current chief of the Fellowship Program and the leader of GU oncology at this hospital. As a clinician, Dr. Fay has worked at Hospital Moinhos de Vento—a Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospital in Brazil. 

Jack Caravanos, DrPH 
Clinical Professor of Global and Environmental Health
School of Global Public Health 
New York University 

Jack Caravanos (DrPH, CIH) is an environmental and occupational health scientist focusing on identifying, assessing, and controlling chemical, biological, and physical hazards. He is a full-time Clinical Professor of Global and Environmental Health at New York University’s (NYU) School of Global Public Health. Prior to NYU, he was a tenured full professor (and presently professor emeritus) at City University of NY for 40+ years, helping to develop a well-established and successful industrial hygiene and environmental health program. At NYU, he is helping to develop a global environmental and occupational health program that will take advantage of the universities network of global campuses.

Dr. Caravanos prides himself on being a practicing field-based environment occupational health and safety (EOHS) professional. Since 2005, he has assisted the international nonprofit, Pure Earth, with its Toxic Site Inventory Program (TSIP) and has traveled to over 20 countries assisting partners in both the private and governmental sectors in sampling and assessing environmental and occupational health threats from hazardous waste sites and operations. In addition, Dr. Caravanos has conducted dozens of environmental and industrial hygiene health assessments of electronic waste sites, backyard smelters, gold mining sites, and tanneries.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Caravanos was an outspoken professional commenting on the effectiveness of various interventions and practices. To date, he has been featured in numerous radio stations, print and web newspapers, and over 20 episodes of ABC’s Inside Edition television news programs.

Lastly, Dr. Caravanos has published numerous peer-reviewed publications covering an array of hazards in a variety of settings. He has also authored two books: Quantitative Industrial Hygiene: A Formula Workbook, and the popular college environmental textbook Our Global Environment: A Health Perspective. His full resume can be viewed at:

Toni Choueiri, M.D.
Director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary (GU) Oncology 
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 

Toni K. Choueiri, M.D., is the director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary (GU) Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), co-leader of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Kidney Cancer Program, and the Jerome and Nancy Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the medical director, International Strategic Initiatives at DFCI and past president of the medical staff at DFCI (2016-2018). He received the George Canellos Award for Excellence in Clinical Investigation and Patient Care from DFCI in 2013, the Eugene Schonfeld Award from the Kidney Cancer Association (KCA) in 2016, and is a 2021 Giants of Cancer Care inductee. He serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Kidney Cancer panel, KidneyCAN board, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) GU Steering Committee, and is past chairman (2015-2018) of the Medical and Scientific Steering Committee of the KCA. Dr. Choueiri is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI). In addition, he is an Aresty Scholar from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  

Dr. Choueiri is interested in developing novel experimental therapies and biomarkers in GU malignancies, including renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In a series of New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) articles on which he was either the first or senior author, Dr. Choueiri and colleagues have made seminal observations that have defined and evolved the treatment of RCC and led to the approval of several therapies such as cabozantinib, pazopanib, avelumab+axitinib, cabozantinib+nivolumab, and pembrolizumab+lenvatinib, as well as adjuvant pembrolizumab. His research also focuses on the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment outcomes of GU cancers, especially through having co-established the International Metastatic RCC Database Consortium (IMDC) criteria for RCC risk stratification. His biomarker work has shed light on complex immunogenomics mechanisms contributing to response and resistance to targeted therapy and immunotherapy. He has also contributed to our understanding of the underlying biology and rationale for therapies in rare histological variants of RCC, such as papillary, translocation, and sarcomatoid RCC. 

Dr. Choueiri has received research funding from the NCI, the U.S. Department of Defense (USDOD), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and industry partners. His work has been published in journals such as the NEJM, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Nature, Nature Medicine, Science, The Lancet, Lancet Oncology, and Journal of Clinical Oncology. He frequently lectures throughout the United States and around the world. He has over 700 PubMed-indexed publications and is the lead investigator of multiple national and international phase I-III clinical trials in GU cancers. 

Dr. William Esposito, DrPH, CIH

He holds a Doctor of Public Health degree from Columbia University and is also a board-certified industrial hygienist with a subspeciality in indoor environmental quality.

He was an adjunct professor of building science at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (Schack Institute of Real Estate) for 20 years. He has developed and taught courses on a wide range of environmental topics.

He has worked with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) on a variety of environmental issues, including their legionella cooling tower legislation response in 2015, and he developed the REBNY method to identify asbestos in vermiculite containing sprayed-on fireproofing. This method was adopted into law by the New York State Department of Health.

Dr. Esposito is the founder of Ambient Group Inc., a New York City-based laboratory and environmental consulting company established in 1986 (