In this blog post our Segment Leader for Life Science, Josh Guthrie, highlights the uses of psilocybin (a natural psychedelic prodrug compound), the integration of psilocybin research facilities into Canada, as well as the need for adequate air filtration in these facilities.
Since the legalization of medical marijuana in Canada, there have been an increasing number of questions regarding the legalization of other controlled drugs. In particular, there has been an emphasis placed on the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms (commonly known as magic mushrooms) due to possible mental health benefits that can be reaped from consumption. In examining the path that medical marijuana took in becoming accepted into Canadian society, it is apparent that psilocybin is following a similar trend and will likely move faster thanks to its predecessor.
What Are the Laws Surrounding the Use of Psychedelic Drugs In Canada?
As of January 5th, 2022, Health Canada has “given the green light for psychedelic drugs such as MDMA and magic mushrooms to be used for medical purposes”1 and Health Canada’s Special Access Programme (SAP) will allow medical practitioners to request access to previously illegal psychoactive substances for patients2.
This comes as a new amendment reverses a 2013 policy preventing the authorization of new drugs that is or contains a restricted drug. Many health care advocates believe that this amendment is a major breakthrough in treating various life-threatening conditions as well as conditions that are resistant to traditional therapy. While progress has been made, decisions surrounding the use of psychedelic drugs will be made on a case-by-case basis, and there is currently no plan for legalizing restricted drugs on a large scale.
What Are the Health Benefits of Consuming Psilocybin Mushrooms?
It is thought that psilocybin mushrooms and psychedelics have numerous health benefits when consumed, and can be used to manage mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. In fact, one woman from B.C. was granted the legal right to use psychedelic drugs to manage psychological distress over two bouts of colon cancer4.
Not only can psilocybin assist in lessening the effects of mental health disorders, but it is also thought that this prodrug can relieve end-of-life distress for palliative cancer patients; users reported that consuming psilocybin mushrooms while undergoing cancer treatment allowed them to confront their emotions and provide clarity. While these benefits exist, there are still concerns regarding hallucinations and trips that may come with “bad trips” from taking this psychoactive substance.
How is the Canadian Business Market Responding to Health Canada’s Amendment on the Use of Psychedelic Drugs in Medical Practice?
Despite the potential adverse effects of consuming psilocybin mushrooms, manufacturers are choosing to focus on the benefits. As such, facilities for psilocybin research are beginning to pop up throughout Canada. Rritual Superfoods, a psilocybin mushroom manufacturer headquartered in Vancouver, recently launched a $5.22 million initial public offering on the Canadian Stock Exchange for its products3.
In Norfolk County, Ontario, Psirenity, a subsidiary of New Leaf Canada, has been approved to begin the construction of a psilocybin research facility. The new research centre will be approximately 185 square metres within the larger New Leaf facility, and will primarily focus on research and development. Some of the key areas the company seeks to focus on are5:
- Formulation of products
- Supplying of products for clinical trials
- Mushroom strain development
- Extraction of psilocybin
Psirenity was the first to be approved by the University of the West Indies ethics community to conduct trials to determine the efficacy around micro-dosing, and is paving the way for other manufacturers to follow suit.
Why is Adequate Air Filtration Required in Psilocybin Research Facilities?
Just as with cannabis cultivation and pharmaceutical drugs, there are stringent health and safety requirements that must be met to legally research and formulate psilocybin mushrooms. Not only this, but manufacturers also seek to create products that are of the highest quality for consumers. The main concerns in psilocybin mushroom manufacturing that can be addressed with adequate air filtration are contamination, the maintenance of an optimal growing environment, thermogenesis, and employee safety”6.
Contamination can easily lead to failure in mushroom cultivation. Incorrect handling of work equipment, work surfaces, and containers can desterilize the product. Optimal heat levels and cleaning practices must be upheld to create high-quality batches. Air filtration can reduce contamination, and can assist in keeping the product fresh.
Optimal Growing Environment
Mushrooms grow in many different environments. Depending on the mushroom being cultivated, important variables to consider include air and ground temperatures, humidity, and fresh air exchange. The application of air filtration mechanisms can help to control these variables.
As fungi are organic matter, they begin to generate their own heat and eventually decompose. When their temperature is higher than the temperature of the surrounding air in the fruiting room, the fungi can become “cooked” and die. To reduce the effects of thermogenesis, workspaces should be well-ventilated.
When working in confined agriculture spaces, there can be various health hazards to workers. In the case of mushroom cultivation, exposure to hydrogen sulfide and ammonia during production and handling of mushroom compost can be deadly. Furthermore, exposure to carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide during the growing phase can be detrimental to human health7. As with thermogenesis, ventilation can play a key role in keeping employees safe.
For more on air filtration in cannabis cultivation: Cannabis Cultivation in Canada
What Air Filters Are Most Effective For Psilocybin Research Facilities?
To meet challenges in psilocybin mushroom cultivation, particle and molecular filtration are both necessary. Particulate filtration addresses indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns, maintains the sanitization of workspaces, and helps to control temperature. Molecular filtration is most effective for addressing toxic gases emitted from the product and can help keep employees safe. In the recirculation units of research facilities, prefilters, final filters, molecular filters, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can be installed.
Prefilters extend the life of final filters, thereby preventing frequent filter changeouts. The 30/30 Dual 9 is a MERV 9/9A filter that is composed of a unique proprietary dual-layer blended polyester media enclosed in the industry’s strongest moisture-resistant beverage board frame. It is guaranteed to last 12 months in commercial-duty applications and 9 months in industrial-level applications.
As a final filter, the Durafil ES from the Durafil product line has the lowest average pressure drop to ensure the lowest energy cost in the industry along with its ability to perform extremely well in high humidity applications. It is available in MERV 11/11A, MERV 13/13A, MERV 14/14A, and MERV 15/15A, meaning there are various options depending on the level of protection required. Hi-Flo filters improve IAQ and increase employee comfort.
To remove gaseous contaminants and address employee safety, a molecular filter should be installed. The CamCarb CG and CamCarb CM provide the optimum removal of molecular contamination. These cylinders can be filled with molecular media, such as Activated Carbon and Impregnated Activated Carbon. These medias target a wide range of adsorbents and trap harmful gases.
To offer the utmost protection and keep workspaces sanitary, a HEPA filter can be installed as a final step. The Absolute VG from our Absolute V filter line is a V-bank style Absolute HEPA filter with high surface area, offering low pressure drop for energy savings and longer life.
There are a variety of factors that determine which air filtration solutions will best protect your psilocybin research facility. Be sure to contact an experienced air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
Camfil Canada Inc.
T: (905) 660-0688
F: Follow Camfil Canada on Facebook
L: Follow Camfil Canada on LinkedIn
T: Follow Camfil Canada on Twitter