Students, faculty and staff assemble do-it-yourself air filtration boxes that fight the spread of COVID-19



Undergraduate and graduate students have come together to assemble air filtration housings to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, UC San Diego has led the science, using the campus as a living laboratory and collaborating with experts to find solutions and put best practices in place. Our award-winning Back to learning plan applies multiple layers of defense – masking, daily symptom and exposure screening, testing and vaccination – and emphasized the importance of air filtration in academia and research.

Last week, as students returned to face-to-face classes, dozens of UC San Diego students, faculty and staff gathered on campus in one of the open-air classrooms. to build 250 do-it-yourself air filters to support our Return to Learn program. The filters will be used in various classrooms, lecture halls and labs on campus, and will also be donated to Preuss School UC San Diego.

Undergraduate and graduate students gathered to assemble the air filters noted the value for the campus. Nikki Mercer, a graduate student in biology, said: “Cleaner air benefits the university and its students, so I wanted to play my part in controlling our health situation.” Ellie Peterson, an undergraduate biochemistry student, also appreciated the initiative: “This is a great opportunity to improve our overall situation. I am delighted to be back on campus to attend classes in person.


Division of Biological Sciences Dean Kit Pogliano and Kimberly Prather, distinguished professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, assemble an air filter.

The effort was led by atmospheric chemist Kimberly Prather, who has become a national expert on aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Prather, who is a distinguished professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, focused last year on communicating the latest scientific evidence on the major role of aerosol transmission in silent propagation SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“Once it is recognized that the virus is traveling through the air, it becomes a very fixable problem. We need to focus on cleaning the air through multiple layers of protection, ”said Prather. “These air filters add an extra layer that the university is implementing to protect the community on our campus.”

A team from multiple campus departments – Academic Affairs, Biological Sciences, Business and Financial Services, HalıcıoÄŸlu Data Science Institute, Resource Management and Planning, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Student Affairs – discovered the innovative filters and created a plan for inter-campus action to put them into service.

The Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences, Kit Pogliano, said of the event: “This event and the boxes will raise awareness of the importance of indoor air quality. Masks, open windows, and air filters can significantly reduce the transmission of this disease, and these simple air filters also remove harmful pollutants, including smoke from forest fires, from indoor air. “

The air filter, named the Corsi-Rosenthal box, is inexpensive, easy to assemble and efficient. It was first created when Richard Corsi, dean of the UC Davis engineering school, suggested the idea on Twitter, and Jim Rosenthal, owner of Tex-Air Filters, built the first box. in response. The materials – a box fan, 4 or 5 MERV-13 filters, and duct tape – cost between $ 70 and $ 120, and the box is designed to last six months.

The air filters complement UC San Diego’s existing efforts to monitor air quality and keep the campus as safe as possible. Understanding how the virus is spread through aerosols, UC San Diego regularly monitors the air quality in campus buildings, assesses air volume, and adjusts air flow. “It’s something we’ve been doing in our labs for years, but it’s a technology that we’ve taken out of labs and applied to general buildings,” said Gary Matthews, vice chancellor of resource management and Planning. “We have updated the filters in the HVAC system to reflect what is used in a hospital, and we now use fresh outside air to flush buildings around the clock.”


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