In collaboration with researchers at the University of Montana-Missoula, Kart Kleen has developed a patent-pending invention to eliminate viruses like COVID-19 from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Missoula-based company is in the process of sharing manufacturing blueprints and plans to begin production immediately in Montana.

Given the current shortage of PPE in hospitals and clinics, the founders of Kart Kleen — Jason Gardiner, Brian Rose and Joe Obresley — quickly shifted gears. They converted an existing product that sanitized items such as shopping carts to a mobile machine that safely disinfects N95 masks, face shields, protective goggles and gloves without harming the protective gear.

Dr. William Holben, lead scientist for Kart Kleen, reported initial measurements with the units indicate just three minutes of treatment would inactivate greater than 99.9% of all viruses present.

Holben, who holds a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology, said the team put their focus on fomite disinfecting.

“Fomites are objects that can be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission,” said Holben, who has over 30 years of experience in environmental microbiology and molecular microbial ecology. “We were able to apply this concept and destroy these viruses and numerous other harmful microbes that survive on surfaces and can be transmitted onward.”

The Kart Kleen team reached out to community leaders, including Nelly Nicol, candidate for Montana State Auditor, who quickly became a supporter.

“It’s what we do in Montana,” said Nicol. “Our communities are tightly knit, and campaigning across the state has given me access to a diverse pool of influencers who I knew would want to help.”

Kart Kleen president and founder Jason Gardiner said: “Our goal is to decrease the shortage of safety equipment and ease the minds of our medical teams, law enforcement, and essential workforce. They are still out there each day, keeping our country running in a safe, healthy manner.”

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