Internet Praises This 'Genius' DIY Air Purifier

Box fan, some air filters, and duct tape are what people are using to fend off wildfire pollutants
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2023 9:20 AM CDT
This DIY Air Purifier Is All the Rage Online
A Corsi-Rosenthal air purifier built by Liz Hradil is seen at her home in Syracuse, New York, after wildfire smoke covered much of New York on Wednesday. The method involves taping four air filters together with a box fan. Experts say the DIY method is highly effective against filtering air indoors...   (Liz Hradil via AP)

Social media users are sharing a surprisingly effective way to protect yourself indoors from the toxic wildfire smoke blanketing much of the East Coast: a box fan, four air filters, and a whole lot of duct tape. As searches for "air purifiers" spike on Google, people are posting on TikTok and Facebook about how to build the DIY air purifier. The technique, known as the Corsi-Rosenthal method, has gained attention in recent years amid the pandemic and raging western US wildfires, per the AP. Public health experts say Corsi-Rosenthal purifiers are highly effective at removing particles from the air. Petri Kalliomaki, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health, said their clean air delivery rate is relatively high and can be used to purify air against not only smoke, but pollen and viruses.

At the University of Connecticut on Thursday, Misti Levy Zamora, an assistant professor in public health sciences, and her colleagues were handing out Corsi-Rosenthal purifiers for free to anyone stopping by. Zamora said she's done several tests at the university, public schools, and her own home on the purifier. "I can confidently say this thing is working really well today," she said. "I was able to filter out all the particles in the air basically back down to what I saw last week within a matter of minutes." The power of social media led to the invention of the box, says co-inventor Richard Corsi, dean of the College of Engineering at UC Davis. He notes that in 2020, he was sketching one night and put the design up on Twitter. Jim Rosenthal, CEO of Tex-Air Filters, took the design and built it.

Some East Coast residents are learning about the box fan method for the first time, unlike their West Coast counterparts who are accustomed to wildfire smoke. Meanwhile, Seattle resident Angel Robertson, 34, posted a video on a New Yorker's TikTok demonstrating how to put it together. In her video, which has amassed more than 600,000 views, Robertson duct-tapes four 20-by-20 air filters into a box shape and attaches the fan on top. The whole apparatus ran her under $100.

(Read more wildfires stories.)

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