Date: Wednesday 1st June 2016

Venue: CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), Innovation Avenue, Freeport

The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Air Quality Management Services (AQMS) unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Health recently hosted an information session entitled, “Let CARIRI help you clear the air” at CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development, Innovation Avenue, Freeport as part of their mandate to promote a safe and healthy working environment.  The launch was well attended by over 100 Health and Safety Professionals throughout the country as well as the Honourable Minister of Health, Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh who gave the feature address

In his speech, Mr. Deyalsingh educated the audience on the hazards of poor indoor air quality stating, “Our indoor environment can be 2-5 times more toxic than our outdoor environment based on everyday office items such as computers and copiers.” He also discussed a familiar term “Sick building syndrome” which the audience agreed is a big deterrent to productivity.

The Minister also highlighted the relationship between chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) and poor IAQ which poses health risks such as Stroke, Ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.  He emphasized the importance of information in the fight against poor air pollution and its health effect and the need for a multi sector approach. The Minister closed off his speech by stating “CARIRI is one of the best kept secrets in the nation with a prominent role in strengthening awareness and support in the fight against poor indoor air quality.”

CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah in his opening remarks welcomed everyone to CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development which he described as a national innovation hub and technology transfer centre which is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.  He went on to say, “We all need air to breathe therefore we are all affected by poor indoor air quality.” Mr. Shah stated that though indoor air quality in buildings was highly publicized in the media, individuals do not fully understand the effects air pollution can have on your health, work life and mental performance which in turn affects productivity.

He went on to describe CARIRI’s AQMS department as experts with extensive experience as evidenced by the completion of one thousand (1000) jobs with over 50 done regionally over a ten year period. He ended his speech with this profound statement on ascertaining the root cause of IAQ, “Better is not always about doing more, but identifying the risk.”

Participants also gained insights from CARIRI's expert team who are Council-Certified Environmental Consultants accredited by the American Council of Accredited Certification (ACAC) and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB) which is the most prestigious certification specific to Indoor Air Quality.

Mrs. Tisha John, Environmental Specialist and Head of CARIRI’s Indoor Air Quality Department presented on some of the effects and causes of poor IAQ which she attributed to common indoor contaminants such as dust, fibreglass, indoor allergens such as dust mites from carpet and fabric furniture and even ozone from photocopiers. She went on to explain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which are a large group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. These are particularly dangerous as they are found in workplace cleansers, pesticides, disinfectants, glues and even paints.

Mrs. John advised the HR persons and also the HSE officers to keep an eye out for prevalent cases of skin rashes, dryness and irritation of eyes, nose, throat and skin, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and nausea and sinus congestion as these are common symptoms of poor IAQ. She closed off her presentation summarizing some of the common causes of issues associated with poor IAQ which include improperly maintained HVAC’s, contamination by construction materials, continuous re-circulation of air inside buildings and lastly increases in the number of building occupants 

The next presenter, Mr. Tricia Singh, Laboratory Manager of CARIRI gave a riveting presentation on, “How mold can affect you.” She started the presentation with this interesting fact, “The human body can go approximately three weeks without food, one week without water but only 3 minutes without air!” She describes mold as the most misunderstood and controversial topic of all indoor air quality parameters which includes mold spores, bacteria, yeast and viruses.

Ms. Singh also went on to specify three main factors influencing growth of mold indoors which include:

  • The availability of a food source e.g. organic and cellulose based materials such as ceiling tiles, leather, fabric and even accumulation of dust and garbage from lack of proper housekeeping,
  • Temperature as mold grows optimally within the range of 10-40 oC since this coincides with the temperature of most indoor environments
  • Availability of moisture is the most critical factor. Sources of moisture include infiltration of moisture from outdoors such as roof leaks, flooding and win driven rain. Indoor sources such as leaking plumage and sewage spills can also contribute to moisture.

Ms. Singh closed off by saying air contamination is not the only cause for feelings of discomfort and illness and may be related to issues in the total indoor environment such as noise levels, thermal comfort (temperature, humidity and air movement), lighting and ergonomics which she explained CARIRI has the capability to test.

CARIRI’s capabilities were expounded by Mr. Rishi Shaffie, Environmental Technologist of CARIRI who describes the Air Quality Management Unit as a multi-disciplinary team with extensive experience and a wide range of skills to meet the needs of the Client. Some of the services offered by CARIRI in the area of Indoor Air Quality include but are not limited to:

  • IAQ Testing & assessments
  • Ventilation systems inspections
  • Microbial IAQ testing
  • Noise surveys
  • Occupational health risk assessment
  • Sick building syndrome surveys

Basically, the department can monitor for any occupational hygiene exposure (noise, heat stress, gases, particulates, vibration, lighting, and ergonomics) and compare results to international and local standards and guidelines.   

The session also included a riveting panel discussion which featured Mr. David Abdulah, Political Leader, Movement for Social Justice giving a union perspective, Mr. Terence Seemungal, President, Thoracic Society of Trinidad and Tobago giving a medical perspective and Mrs. Denise Ferguson, Human Resources Officer, CARIRI giving an HR perspective as it relates to issues of IAQ.

Mr. Abdulah made a suggestion that though the session undertaken by CARIRI was informative and a step in the right direction, more needs to be done through targeted information via various media specifically the air conditions firms and even insurance companies who he believed would benefit most.

Professor Seemungal answered several questions posed by audience members on occupational Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which are lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. From his experience in Trinidad over the last 13 years he believes there is a rise in lung related disease and a few instances which could be linked to exposure from the workplace.

Mrs. Ferguson gave invaluable insights into how employees can make a difference by increasing communication between departments and documenting workplace illnesses in real time. This collection of data can then be analyzed by management to assess troubled areas within organizations and can also be used for trend analysis.

CARIRI and CED continues to remind the public about its diversity and innovation not only in scientific research but also entrepreneurial development for example the Business Hatchery program and the IAS (Idea Advisory Service) just to name a few. CARIRI is not only about general research rather it is about applied research.

For more information on our Indoor Air Quality Department you can contact them at:

Air Quality Management Services (AQMS)
Trincity West Industrial Estate,
Macoya,
Tel: (868) 285-5050 ext. 3300
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Before the programme, the Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, toured the Centre for Enterprise Development alongside Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO, CARIRI and the media where he saw CARIRI’s Technology Bays in operations, Business Hatchery, Idea Advisory Service (IAS), Tekmania, 3D printing lab and Microsoft Innovation Centre.

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The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health during his Feature Address

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Side-shot of attendees at CARIRI’s Air Quality Session

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CARIRI’s CEO Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah explaining the value added products of CARIRI’s technology bays to The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health

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Our esteemed panelists from (L-R) are Mr. Terence Deyalsingh, President, Thoracic Society of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Denise Ferguson, Human Resources Officer, CARIRI and Mr. David Abdulah, Political Leader, Movement for Social Justice 

As part of its ongoing efforts to build capacity in ICT, the Institute, in collaboration with some of its valuable partners like the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce hosted a session on Wednesday 25th May 2016 that highlighted the need to utilize ICT in the ‘new’ economy.  This session showcased software that can be accessed by many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.    

CARIRI recognizes ICT critical areas of deficiency at the micro-economic level such as technological readiness, business sophistication, innovation and the relative underutilization of ICT by the business sector. Because of this, an InterAmerican Development Bank project was launched with the aim of improving performance of SMEs through the application of ICT a few years ago and thus far, with CARIRI as the executing arm of this project, was able to reach over 450 SMEs in a variety of sectors.

CARIRI understands the potential of the non-energy manufacturing and services sector which are dominant within the country and significantly contribute substantially to economic growth and development. As part of our mandate we build technological capability and enhance operational efficiency among SMEs through secured financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).  Some of these include Electronic Health Record software called CARIMed as well as CARIRI’s Point of Sales Software, these are just two examples of what CARIRI has been doing in the field of ICT over the last couple of years. 

At the session entitled ‘Moving into the Future with ICT’, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah said “small businesses are very important to most economies generating significant wealth and employment.  Competitiveness and innovation go hand in hand, for companies to grow and to continue to be successful, innovation is critical.  There is the ever pressing need for relevant stakeholders to understand innovation in small businesses particularly in terms of ICT implementation and use in order to plan how to survive in today’s economic climate and to expand in the future.’

Ms Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the InterAmerican Bank commended CARIRI on a job well done as the executing agent of the project. She stated that the overall objective of the project was to improve the business performance and competitiveness of businesses in the target sectors, which was expanded to include virtually all sectors in the country and that CARIRI had done an impressive job thus far by reaching out to the companies with potential for ICT implementation. 

Mr Richie Sookhai, President of the Chagaunas Chamber of Industry and Commerce also gave some remarks to the audience gathered at the Centre for Enterprise Development, Freeport.  Mr Sookhai, also a business owner, also spoke about how ICT can be utilized to ensure that businesses succeed in a global environment.  He also spoke about the use of technology in the fight against crime and asked some very pertinent questions about how effective we are at using the data that is available. 

At the session, members of the audience were treated to the new software built in-house at CARIRI to satisfy the demand for more personalized software.  A very active question and answer segment took place as members of the audience, many of them small business owners, had numerous questions for the team. 

At the end of the programme, the audience was invited to sign up for a free diagnostic, in which the team would go in to the business and determine what ICT tools would be able to assist the business to operate more efficiently and they would suggest implementations which normally range from social media to accounting systems to inventory management systems depending on the needs of the business.   

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L-R: Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI, Mr Richie Sookhai, President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, His Worship the Mayor of Chaguanas, Mr Gopaul Boodhan, Mr Vishnu Charran, Board member of Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce

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Ms Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the InterAmerican Development Bank giving her remarks about the job that CARIRI has been doing over the last few years in the field of ICT

For more information, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 299-0210 ext 5048

On Thursday 21st April 2016, CARIRI’s mCentre hosted 15 competitors who were all vying for the chance to be the local representative in a regional app competition to be held in Jamaica later this year, called the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project.  Held at the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport, this one-day competition, CODESprint 2016, allowed competitors to showcase and highlight their apps. 

CodeSPRINT 2016 was hosted by PitchIT Caribbean and CARIRI’s mCentre and is a mobile application development competition geared towards bringing together developers, subject matter experts, and idea generators all in one venue for the purpose of developing and promoting mobile applications.

From as early as 10am, competitors started their presentations and each was just as impressive as the last.  The judges consisted of a Microsoft representative, an Appreneur and two CARIRI staff members, and they were able to question each competitor on their app and were able to provide valuable feedback going forward.

The competition was intense and highlighted how many undiscovered apps are out there waiting to get their chance in the spotlight. 

Winners of the competition were as follows:

  • First place - Stephan James – Wanderscape (a new and exciting travel marketplace and mobile app where you can discover, share & book activities by local insiders.)
  • Second place - Keenen Charles - Tap Tag
  • Third Place - Raees Rahim - Trini Questions : Trivia
  • Most innovative app - Devin Escallier - Numgical
  • Best Designed App- Raees Rahim - Trini Questions: Trivia
  • The Microsoft Imagine Award:  Corporates- Jeremiah Cruickshank

PitchIT Caribbean, under the remit of the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP), is a two-tiered partnership approach to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses in the Caribbean.

Administered by a University of the West Indies (UWI) Consortium led by UWI Consulting Inc. and also comprising the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Mona Business Support Services (MBSS), PitchIT Caribbean is a part of the Entrepreneurship programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the Government of Canada and executed by InfoDev/World Bank, spanning 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

PItchIT Caribbean is designed to strengthen the Caribbean mobile innovation ecosystem and enable sustainable and competitive mobile enterprises to grow through activities that will target early stage innovators and guide them to market readiness.

The aim is for the creation of a regional pool of high-growth potential mobile start-ups with the capacity to release their apps to the market and raise additional capital to grow.

The mHub partners of PitchIT Caribbean are all focused on building mobile innovation communities in the various CARICOM countries by convening a variety of local stakeholder groups.

The mHub partners of PitchIT Caribbean are:

  1. Barbados - BCSI Barbados Coalition of Service Industries.
  2. Trinidad – The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute.
  3. Dominica - National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
  4. St. Kitts and Nevis

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Cross section of audience 

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First place - Stephan James - Wanderscape

The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Industrial Materials – Civil Unit held their first session for the year on Tuesday 12th April, 2016 and was aptly named “Quality in Construction”.  The session was held at the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport and was attended by a wide cross section of persons who actively work in the Construction sector. 

The Minister of Works and Transport, the Honourable Fitzgerald Hinds delivered the feature address at the session.  The Honourable Minister stated his enthusiasm for accepting CARIRI’s invitation to the seminar since he thought that this discussion was very important to the nation and he commended CARIRI for taking the initiative to commence it.  He stated that in adversity, we become strong and can find the opportunities for growth. 

He continued by saying that the government has plans in place to improve the infrastructure of the country by building more interchanges, bridges and overpasses among other things but they also recognized that there needed to be a system in place to ensure that quality is present from the start.  He stressed that institutions like CARIRI needed to play a role in ensuring that quality is adhered to.   He reiterated that quality needs to be given more attention and that his Ministry will be keeping an eye on the issue of quality in projects moving forward.

Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah also spoke about the need to move the quality discussion forward collectively.  He spoke about making quality a priority and ensuring that innovative solutions become a necessary component in the current market.  He noted that when creativity is implemented, then companies can become more cost effective and efficient. 

Guest speaker, Mr Geoffrey Abdulah, Director of Acuitas spoke about the need to improve the Engineering Profession Act and that insurance also needed to play a part in quality. 

CARIRI’s staff members then went into valuable presentations and demonstrations that clearly spoke about the need to have quality present at all times from the start.  The presentations were well received with many of the attendees indicating their appreciation of the efforts of the CARIRI team.

Achieving quality standards is one of the most important issues in the
construction industry and the management of quality is an important factor in determining the competitive edge of any business, but more so, for construction companies.  Always a point of consternation, it is vital that companies in this sector recognize and understand the importance of a proper quality system since it begins with selection, sampling and storage of materials. 

After being in this sector for a number of years and working with an assortment of companies, the Civil Engineering Unit of CARIRI has seen the need to further educate companies on the importance of quality in construction from the beginning of the project to the completion of the final structure.  This remains one of the most important ways in which CARIRI is seeking to enhance industrial capability and competitiveness in the construction sector. 

As a certified and accredited testing facility, it is vital that CARIRI take the lead in bringing these key quality issues to the forefront.  With over 30 years of experience, the Civil Engineering Unit is the most advanced ISO-certified civil/construction engineering testing laboratory in the Caribbean. CARIRI’s team of experienced professionals has provided testing and consultancy services to government ministries locally and within the region and to the construction, energy and light manufacturing sectors, among others.

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L-R: Mikey Joseph, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association, Liaquat Ali Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Minister of Works and Transport, the Honorable Fitzgerald Hinds, Geoffrey Abdulah, Director of Acuitas Caribbean

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The Honorable Minister receiving a token of appreciation from CARIRI

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The Honourable Minister taking a look at one of CARIRI’s inventions