A study shows that a simple and easy-to-install air filter can protect against diseases caused not only by viruses, but also by chemical pollutants.
Called Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, or cubes, the filter can be constructed from materials found at hardware stores: four MERV-13 filters, duct tape, a 20-inch box fan, and a cardboard box.
“The results show that an inexpensive and easy-to-install air filter can protect against diseases caused not only by viruses but also by chemical pollutants,” said the study’s senior author Joseph Brown, assistant professor at Brown University in the US.
“This type of highly accessible public health intervention can enable community groups to take steps to improve air quality and, in turn, improve their health,” Brown said in a statement.
As part of the project, the boxes were assembled by students and members of the campus community and installed in the School of Public Health as well as other buildings on the Brown University campus.
To evaluate the cubes’ effectiveness in removing chemicals from the air, Brown and his team compared the concentrations of semi-volatile organic compounds in the room before and during the box’s operation.
The results, published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, show that the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes significantly reduced concentrations of several PFAS and phthalates in 17 rooms during the period they were used (February to March 2022).
PFAS, a type of synthetic chemical found in a range of products including detergents, textiles and wire insulation, fell from 40 to 60 percent.
Researchers found that phthalates, commonly found in building materials and personal care products, were reduced by 30 to 60 percent.
PFAS and phthalates have been linked to various health problems, Brown said, including asthma, decreased response to vaccines, low birth weight, altered brain development in children, altered metabolism and some cancers.
They are also considered endocrine disrupting chemicals that may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones. PFAS has been associated with decreased vaccine response in children and may also increase the severity and susceptibility to COVID-19 in adults, according to the researchers.
“Reducing levels of PFAS and phthalates is a wonderful co-benefit of Corse-Rosenthal funds,” said study co-author Robin Dodson, a research scientist with the US-based Silent Spring Institute.
He added, “These boxes are very accessible, easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and are currently being used in universities and homes across the country.”
Researchers said the Corsi-Rosenthal Fund was designed to be a simple and cost-effective tool to promote accessible and effective air cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fact that the boxes are also effective at filtering out air pollutants is a great discovery,” said Richard Corsi, one of the inventors of the boxes from the University of California, Davis.
The researchers also found that the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes increase sound levels by an average of 5 decibels during the day and 10 decibels at night, which can be considered distracting in certain settings, such as classrooms.
However, Brown said, the health benefits of the box likely outweigh the sonic side effects.
“Box filters make some noise. But you can build them quickly for about $100 apiece, using materials from the hardware store. Not only are they very efficient, but they’re also scalable,” he says.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
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