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UC San Diego Professor Presents Air Filtration Fan to the White House to Help Fight COVID-19

Kimberly Prather and colleagues deliver an innovative air purifier and action-oriented message to Washington, D.C.

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A renowned atmospheric scientist at the University of California San Diego recently brought an innovative gift and action-oriented message to our nation’s capital. Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry, presented a Corsi-Rosenthal Box, a unique invention developed by a multi-campus, cross-country team of students and scientists, to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Sept. 9, 2022.

“This is a simple, effective, inexpensive, and accessible solution for all,” said Prather, a Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “The C-R air filtration box is a low-cost innovation made of parts that are readily available that can effectively work in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 simply by cleaning the air. Anyone who can make a package to ship can build one. It is empowering for students and families to build their own. I’m honored to be part of this effort in addressing some of our most pressing needs with regards to indoor air quality and public health.”

A Corsi-Rosenthal air-filtration box consists of a box fan, tape and MERV-13 filters. It is shown to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus through the air and can filter the air for up to six months. Last fall, Prather led an effort to build 250 do-it-yourself C-R boxes for use on campus as part of UC San Diego’s Return to Learn initiative, which puts leading-edge solutions and recognized best practices to work to allow in-person learning to occur safely.

The C-R box was presented to the White House by Prather and colleague Marina A. Creed, a neuroimmunologist and MS nurse practitioner at the University of Connecticut. Nicknamed “Air Force One,” the gifted unit was built by fifth graders from the Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School in Hartford, Conn.

“The evidence is clear – clean indoor air keeps students healthier and happier. We are excited to learn more about how these students put this evidence into action to benefit their community,” said Dr. Erica Kimmerling, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The ‘Air Force One’ air filter will not only help provide clean air to the staff at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, but it will be a great conversation starter to help spread the word about the ways people can improve indoor air quality.”

Earlier in the week, Prather gave an invited lecture on her efforts in helping safely re-open San Diego Unified School District at the National Strategy for Improving Indoor Air Quality, a conference hosted by the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has been widely recognized for her work on emissions, pollutants and climate and was elected to the American Philosophical Society earlier in the year.

“As a society, we now recognize the importance of putting the best science to work to address indoor air quality issues today,” Prather said. “Many exciting innovations have emerged in the last two years alone. Once it is clearly acknowledged the virus is airborne, it becomes a very fixable problem. People will shift from cleaning surfaces to cleaning indoor air where we spend 90% of our time. This has huge positive health ramifications beyond COVID-19 by reducing the spread of all airborne pathogens, pollutants including wildfire smoke, and other asthma-inducing aerosols.”

UC San Diego Professor Presents Air Filtration Fan to the White House to Help Fight COVID-19
Kimberly Prather and Marina A. Creed (front row) present the “Air Force One" Corsi-Rosenthal Box to team members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy including (left to right) Erica Kimmerling, Georgia Lagoudas, and Steph Guerra.

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