Air filter hack: Sackville Groups has put together a DIY solution

Air filter hack: Sackville Groups has put together a DIY solution

Many Sackville groups are turning to DIY solutions to keep their spaces as virus-free as possible.

They make Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, a homemade air purification system, designed to filter out airborne droplets that can carry influenza or COVID-19.

David Thomas, a professor of political science at Mount Allison University, has helped make at least 20 filter boxes and has hosted workshops to teach people how to make them.

He said he helped the Sackville Commons Co-op and two local Anglican churches build their own trusts and he loaned the trusts he made to other groups and individuals.

Sackville Commons held a workshop on how to build Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes. (Submitted by Shoshanna Wingate)

“I lent a couple to Sappyfest in the summer, and they put them where the musicians would eat their lunch,” said Thomas.

“I’ve loaned them out to friends and neighbors if they have COVID in their home… I’ve built three more myself, two to put on campus in the Aboriginal gathering space.”

Shoshana Wingate, the writer and poet who has organized the Making of the Commons nomination boxes, borrowed one from Thomas when she contracted COVID-19 earlier this year.

She said that neither her partner nor her two children caught the virus from her.

Shoshanna Wingate borrowed one of Thomas’ boxes when she contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and was glad her partner and two children didn’t catch the virus from it. (Submitted by Shoshanna Wingate)

“I kind of put it in the hallway between the bedrooms, and none of the other family members got COVID while I was sick,” Wingate said.

“We were all really careful, and I obviously didn’t come out of my room without a mask on, but we managed to keep him away from the rest of the family.”

What are Corsi Rosenthal boxes?

Corsi-Rosenthal boxes are the brainchild of American engineer Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal, CEO of filter manufacturer Tex Air Filters.

The boxes are made of four MERV13 furnace filters strapped together to make a box. It can filter bacteria and droplets from coughs and sneezes. A common home box fan is affixed to the top of the box to allow air to enter and be forced through the filters.

And at least one study appears to support the boxes as a legitimate alternative to HEPA filters.

A study published in Science of The Total Environment said the box “compares favorably in performance with tested HEPA air purifiers.”

Cheap and easy to build

Wingate says the materials needed to make the boxes are readily available from retailers, and cost just over $100—much less than store-bought air purifiers.

Another advantage of the boxes, Thomas said, is that they are relatively easy to make.

“I always say if I can figure it out that’s pretty much it,” he said, “because I’m not a useful person in any way.”

The six bins on Sackville Commons have been in use for about a month now, during events like the weekly farmer’s market.

Photo of several Corsi-Rosenthal boxes of four filters taped together to make a box with a box fan taped to the top.
Corsi – Rosenthal Boxes are the brainchild of American engineer Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal, CEO of filter manufacturer Tex Air Filters. (Submitted by David Thomas)

Wingate said the commons wanted to open up more to the public while making the space as safe as possible.

“I thought that would be really important for accessibility and to make sure we’re a safe place,” Wingate said.

Thomas said he believes it is important to do as much as possible to reduce the spread of respiratory diseases, especially during the current crisis in hospitals.

“If you’re in a place that isn’t well ventilated, especially in the winter when we can’t open the windows and stuff, those things are really important to help clean the indoor air,” said Thomas.

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