ASU students make DIY air filters to help slow the spread of COVID-19

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Posted at 9:12 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 00:29:37-05

TEMPE, AZ — Getting creative in the battle against COVID-19. Brand new ‘do-it-yourself’ air filters are now being used in Valley classrooms. Arizona State University is playing a key role in getting the project off the ground with a push to help keep our kids and teachers safe, finding new solutions to slowing the spread.

Dr. Megan Jehn, an infectious disease epidemiologist and ASU professor, has worked with students throughout the pandemic.

Her team is now jumping onboard a new trend.

"I stumbled upon it on social media. There is sort of a global movement to building these DIY filtration units. I thought this was a great thing we could do as a university,” said Dr. Jehn.

What started as research led to a hands-on group project for students.

"I love it. I find a lot of joy in helping out any way I can. This is an excellent way to do it,” said Caden Elizalde.

We are now seeing these DIY air filters in action and complete with their very own fans.

"We get a lot of calls from teachers saying we are really worried about going back in the classroom. We are nervous about our kids getting sick. Is there anything we can do,” stated Dr. Jehn.

ASU Prep Academy teacher Lisa Winghart started using one in her classroom two weeks ago.

"I have noticed, with the doors closed and we have a contained area, the air seems to be cleaner. When you breathe, you smell and the air seems fresher. When I open a door, go into the hallway, you can see there is a noticeable difference,” said Winghart.

The team at ASU says you don't have to be a scientist to make these air filters. Most people; at home, can make them which Dr. Jehn says blocks out 85% of the particles which carry COVID.

"As long as you seal it properly with duct tape, you buy the good-quality filters, they work. It is a brilliant solution actually,” added Dr. Jehn.

We're told the idea for this design first started in California.

We asked one of our ABC15 health insiders what he thinks about the filters.

He points to the initial studies.

“They did it in a room with salt (particles) and decay rate,” said Dr. Ross Goldberg with Valleywise Health. “What does it look like with people in the room? If they are actually looking at the virus particles themselves. How are they doing that? What is the clinical impact of it?”

Dr. Goldberg remains curious, but is calling it a good step toward slowing the spread.