Exeleon Magazine

Meet Hamza Mbareche, Canadian Microbiologist

Hamza Mbareche_Exeleon Magazine

Below is our recent interview with Hamza Mbareche, PhD, a leading research scientist working at the frontiers of molecular biology.

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?

Hamza Mbareche: Yes, I would be happy to. I started Hamza Mbareche Consulting as a way to apply the experience I’ve gained as an academic researcher to real-world situations. As much as I enjoy solving a scientific puzzle and adding to the body of knowledge in my field, I realized that these discoveries are too important to leave to the realm of scientific literature.

Science doesn’t exist in isolation from people, or at least it shouldn’t. Everything we learn through research and discovery should be immediately made available to the wider public, if it can help preserve, protect or improve the health of populations in any way. And that is what Hamza Mbareche Consulting is all about.

It’s not about theory, it’s about solutions for complex air quality issues. It’s a way to focus my knowledge of airborne microorganisms, the microbiome and genomics to mitigate the risk of airborne toxins or pathogens in residential or office environments.

I apply my background as a research scientist, data analyst, bioinformatician, computational biologist and molecular biologist to help schools, hospitals, nursing homes, businesses and homeowners discover air quality issues and effectively address them. I assess the air in a particular space and create detailed plans of action to eliminate hazards.

My company also provides training and workshops for air quality sampling, sample processing, data analysis and results interpretation.

My approach to investigating exposure to dangerous particulates uses state-of-the-art technologies and is guided by the latest research in the aerobiome, bioaerosols, whole-genome sequencing of pathogens and related fields.

Q: What are some highlights of your recent announcement?

Hamza Mbareche: I’m gratified to hear that my recent news release has generated so much attention. Recently I had the chance to bring an issue of great importance to the attention of the media and the public. As an academic researcher, I’m not accustomed to issuing news releases, and this was my first. But I believe the issues I raised are of vital importance.

The issue is the risks to health, longevity and quality of life that are posed by airborne pollutants. Airborne particulates have been linked to everything from chronic disease to climate change. 

In my news release, I pointed out that in Canada the national government estimates that 15,300 Canadians die prematurely each year as a result of airborne particulates, and that the annual economic cost of air pollution is $120 billion.

Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?

Hamza Mbareche: For many Canadians, it’s difficult for many people to believe that pollution is an issue, given the fact that we are a vast country in relation to our population. But these days, it’s hard to avoid the risks presented by airborne pollutants. This is true of indoor spaces as well as the atmosphere, and, unfortunately, extends to once pristine outdoor environments.

Many remote wilderness areas are not as unspoiled as we would like to believe. Pollutants can be found in surprising places. For example, microplastics have been detected in agricultural fields, and as far north as Hudson Bay. From southern Ontario to the polar region, airborne contaminants are everywhere.

As a result, I have been advocating for a reevaluation of current air pollution standards. These government and industry recommended limits on particulates are out of date. They have not kept up with scientific advances and discoveries. What is needed is a reassessment of the ways airborne risks are quantified. Traditional air quality standards are not sufficient to protect the public.

Dangerous pollutants that need to be monitored and mitigated include bacteria, viruses, fungi and man-made substances such as asbestos, chemical plant by-products and vehicle exhaust.

These particulates are responsible for a variety of medical issues, including dementia, lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, pneumonia and diabetes. Even small amounts can have devastating effects.

These dangers are usually as invisible as air itself. Chemicals, microbes, spores, and an array of carcinogenic substances can be carried by currents from outdoors or generated from synthetic substances and other indoor sources. Many of the most dangerous particles are invisible and odorless.

Q: What can we expect from your company in the near future? What are your plans?

Hamza Mbareche: I am hoping Hamza Mbareche Consulting can become something of a role model for other scientists. As much as I love the laboratory, academic researchers like myself need to share our discoveries and closely observe what is happening in real-world situations, such as in homes, workplaces, medical facilities and anywhere groups of people gather. Although we ourselves plan to expand as a company, my hope is that others will join us in our overarching mission to protect Canadians by clearing the air.

Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?

Hamza Mbareche: That it is accessible, affordable — and cost-effective; not just in dollar terms, but in the long-term benefit to health and safety that come from addressing airborne environmental risks early and comprehensively.

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