The Canadian experience of biosafety dates back to the early 1960's when little was known and the equipment that today is readily available was not yet thought of. It was evident at the University of Toronto in these early years that equipment purchased for the purpose of contamination containment needed to be tested to confirm its capabilities.
As a direct result of this growth in demand for new technology and the improvements in the knowledge of infection control, Contamination Containment Technology Inc. operating as Con-Test, was established as an equipment testing and certification services company in 1978, one of the first in Canada. It didn't take long to realize that the independence of the certification company from the equipment supplier was essential to maintain the integrity of the test results without the possibility of a perceived conflict of interest. In 1982 Con-Test changed to become an independent certification company free of any corporate alliances. Right from the outset, Con-Test delivered quality performance tests for its clients but had the concern that how did our clients know what they were receiving as there was little industry experience and a lack of regulatory control. Con-Test embarked on an accreditation program and as a result became the only Canadian company ever accredited by the Standards Council of Canada for the purposes of testing biological safety cabinets and laminar flow work stations in 1986. This accreditation contained many components but fundamentally guaranteed to the scientific community that a certification by Con-Test was based on quality principles that to this day have been maintained.
As the demand for better controls and more advanced production techniques developed, Con-Test added the certification of cleanrooms to its service schedule. Pharmaceutical and electronics companies now had access to a quality oriented company that could withstand the rigors of audits by the various agencies of government health protection. To add to our quality guarantee Con-Test led the way again and became the first Canadian company accredited by NEBB for the performance testing and certification of cleanrooms.
Throughout the history of Con-Test our employees have participated in industry forums to help educate the users, upgrade the technician's skills and establish industry recognized standards that were meaningful and comprehensive. We have served on various trade association boards including CETA International for 12 years including a term as president, taught numerous cleanroom courses for NEBB, and given seminars for various industry clients and associations. When the industry finally decided that a technician also needed to be accredited Con-Test was among the first in Canada to have NSF accredited staff. The variety of services now offered by Con-Test led to our achieving registration as an ISO 9001 quality supplier. This helped reduce the need for clients to audit Con-Test. More importantly all of our clients are assured that a certification by Con-test is based on sound quality principles that covers everything that Con-Test does. These principles have resulted in our staff being sought out to consult and give advice on planned additions to facilites and obtaining of new equipment to better serve their needs.
From a modest beginning serving clients in the greater Toronto area, Con-Test now has clients throughout Canada and has provided assistance to the World Health Organization on a limited basis. From the original single technician from the U of T, Con-Test has now grown to have technicians in 9 major metropolitan or provincial regions of Canada. We are truly Canada's only national testing and certification company with the resources to service the demands of the smallest to the largest of clients with specialized controlled environments.