Innovation That Matters

The Corsi-Rosenthal boxes were installed across the university as part of a school-wide project | Photo source Nick Dentamaro

DIY air filters can improve indoor air quality 

Health & Wellbeing

The filters are modular, portable, inexpensive, and easy to assemble

Spotted: More than three million people died from household air pollution in 2020. Many of those deaths could have beeen avoided, with the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that it is “essential to expand use of clean fuels and technologies to reduce household air pollution and protect health.” Seeking ways to make it easier for communities to do that, researchers from Brown University and the Silent Spring Institute tested the efficacy of Corsi-Rosenthal boxes in removing indoor air pollutants. 

Corsi-Rosenthal boxes are air-filtration devices made from easily accessed hardware materials: four MERV-13 air filters, a cardboard box, duct tape, and a 20-inch box fan. When tested in a range of rooms across the Brown University campus, the boxes decreased significant amounts of polluting chemicals.  

As well as filtering virus particles out of the air, the boxes reduced airborne PFAS chemicals by 40 to 60 per cent, and phthalates by 30 to 60 per cent. Both types of chemicals have been linked to health problems – particularly in children – that include asthma, cancer, and reduced vaccine responses.  

Led by Joseph Braun, an associate professor of epidemiology at Brown, and Robin Dodson, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, the experiment suggests that the boxes could be used to improve air quality in public spaces quickly and inexpensively. Additionally, for underserved communities, the filters could be made locally and distributed as required.

From moss walls in cities to retrofitted HVAC systems for commercial buildings, Springwise has spotted many ways that innovators are cleaning our air.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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