Do it yourself for healthier holiday air

Do it yourself for healthier holiday air

Editor’s note: editorials It represents the opinions of the Star Tribune editorial staff, which operates independently of the newsroom.


Michael Ernst’s homemade contribution to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner had some unusual ingredients: duct tape, a box fan, and oven filters.

Ernest teaches statistics at St. Cloud State University. But the pandemic has turned him, like many others, into a COVID-19 warrior. This year, in hopes of helping his loved ones stay healthy over the holidays, he built an air purifier known as the “Corsey-Rosenthal Box” and brought it with him.

“They’re easy to build. They filter a lot of air quickly. The airflow is very good. The only downside is the sound, the noise. But if you’re at a gathering where things are noisy, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Ernst. “We had a group of people sitting around watching football. This thing was in the middle of that and it wasn’t a problem at all.”

With two major holidays approaching, Minnesotans should take Ernest’s approach to public health and build their own DIY device, a sensible move that will pay off with cleaner air throughout the next year. Corsi Rosenthal Squares, named after the University of California, Davis Dean of Engineering And the chief executive officer From Texas air purifier companies, they are often less expensive than brand-name air purifiers. But just like them, these homemade devices can reduce exposure to airborne pathogens.

It is a suitable opportunity for those who are looking for a new way to intensify the fight against the virus that is still spreading. The COVID pandemic is not over, with cases and hospitalizations beats nationwide. Influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses also arrived earlier this year.

Unfortunately, vacations can put people on a collision course with these potentially serious illnesses. Indoor gatherings, crowded spaces, travel, and cold weather can create ideal conditions for virus transmission.

COVID and influenza vaccines remain the most effective means of medicine against the severe illness these viruses can cause. But throughout the pandemic, medical experts have emphasized a layered approach to preventative measures.

The Corsi Rosenthal box is not a substitute for vaccination, masking, testing, or other precautions. It’s another way to protect family and friends, as the items to create it can be easily found at most hardware stores. Main Components: 20 inch box fan, MERV 13 air filtersAnd masking tape and some cardboard (usually cut from the fan packaging).

While there are different designs, the latest iteration recommended by UC-Davis involves taping four filters together to create a cube and then attaching a box fan on top. Instructions and a helpful video are available online at

Turning on the fan circulates the air. Air flows through MERV 13 filters, which in turn remove airborne virus particles, dust, allergens, and other pollutants from the air. Sealing the edges with masking tape and covering the edges of the fan with a sheet of cardboard helps improve efficiency.

UC-Davis estimates the cost of building one at about $65. The university’s online information states, “About a quarter of the cost of a really good HEPA air cleaner to build a Corse Rosenthal box, and it’s more effective than a more expensive air cleaner.” The device is “incredibly effective for lowering levels of virus-laden aerosol particles in classroom air, in office suite air, and in the air in your home or apartment.”

Ernst estimated that it took him less than two hours to make one, and added that he could do it faster a second time. Others may need more time because decorating devices is part of the fun for many. Groups that promote the use of crates in classrooms and daycare facilities, for example, have made crates look like robots.

For the White Bear Lake family, assembling the box was a father-daughter project. Matt Aliotta, a professor of virology at the University of Minnesota, has been looking for a way to improve the safety of classrooms and other gathering spaces. He found the DIY aspect of the Corsi-Rosenthal box appealing. He said, “If you can stick duct tape on something, you should be able to handle it.”

He and his daughter built a box for her third grade. Among her contributions: picking out brightly colored sticky tape and explaining to other students why the box is in the classroom and what it does.

Other families to note: The Corsi-Rosenthal box isn’t just a good idea for the holidays; It can keep indoor air clean all year round.

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