Thanking our heroes who focused us on the air

Air Support Project owes its success to the experts and enthusiasts of the clean air community, who have shaped, moved, and inspired us to build something better. We have been forever changed by their strength, knowledge, and dedication to speaking the truth and documenting their stories.

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What is Air Support Project?

Air Support Project is a social startup aimed at producing low-cost, high-performance air purifier so that as many people as possible can access clean air. Our mission stems from the conviction that healthy indoor air is a human right. Air Support Project’s team has been inspired by and guided by the “clean air community,” experts and enthusiasts alike, who have shaped, moved, and encouraged us to build something better. We have been forever changed by their strength, knowledge, and dedication to speaking the truth and documenting their stories. Our aspirations grew as we began learning more about the impacts of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) while duct-taping Corsi-Rosenthal boxes or DIY air purifiers.

Who showed up to warn us in early 2020?

Image of a sneeze plume stretching seven to eight meters away from the sneezer
Image 1: The turbulent plume produced by a human sneeze contains droplets, solid particles, and gasses. Shown is a sneeze plume stretching seven to eight meters away from the sneezer. Credit: Dr. Lydia Bourouiba from publication titled "Turbulent Gas Clouds and Respiratory Pathogen Emissions: Potential Implications for Reducing Transmission of COVID-19." Published on March 26, 2020.

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.

Image of Tweet by World Health Organization on Match 28, 2020 in which they write "FACT CHECK: COVID is not airborne."
Image 2: Tweet by World Health Organization on Match 28, 2020

Our gratitude begins with Dr. Yuguo Li, who in 2003 investigated an outbreak of SARS-1 at the Amoy Gardens apartment complex in Hong Kong. His research concluded that “airborne spread of the virus appears to explain this large community outbreak of SARS, and future efforts at prevention and control must take into consideration the potential for airborne spread of this virus.”

Early in 2020, Professor Junji Cao and Professor Lidia Morawska were the first to warn the world about the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In early April, Dr. Morawska began writing a petition and enlisting the help of relevant experts who shared her concerns regarding the World Health Organization’s dismissal of research that suggested that COVID spread through the air. This team of experts became known as Group 36. We are grateful for Group 36’s swift response in communicating, alerting the proper authorities, and persevering through skepticism. 

Dr. Linsey Marr, your  fire for the truth set us down a path to correct a 60-year-old error on the boundary between droplets and aerosols. Thank you for your courage. Thank you to the historians Katherine Randall, E.T. Ewing who joined Marr and two other scientists, Bourouiba and Jimenez, for exposing the historical reasoning behind our misunderstanding of viral transmission through the air. Public health authorities and governments worldwide refused to consider the possibility of airborne transmission and instead misplaced the world’s mitigation efforts on droplet transmission.

We are grateful to you who marched on, growing in numbers. By July, 239 scientists joined Dr. Morawska and Dr. Don Milton in signing and delivering an open letter to the WHO demanding that it was indeed time to address the airborne transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Dr. Trisha Greenhalgh, you are an academic warrior, and we are grateful for your work in capturing history even in your toughest moments through multiple publications. Among many things, your work reveals how flawed narratives and opposing interests drove public policy decision-making.

Image is of Image: Larger droplets with viral content deposit close to the emission point (droplet transmission), while smaller can travel meters or tens of meters long distances in the air indoors (aerosol transmission).
Image 3: Larger droplets with viral content deposit close to the emission point (droplet transmission), while smaller can travel meters or tens of meters long distances in the air indoors (aerosol transmission). Credit: Lidia Morawska and Junji Cao from article published online on April 10, 2020 called " Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality."

Jessica Basset AllenSergio Coscolin NavarroMaarten De CockLucia LaraJonathan Mesiano-Crookston, Peter Metzinger, and Dana Parish, thank you for coming together to create COVIDisairborne.org, which has been an immense resource for many. Your collective efforts to petition to the World Health Organization (WHO) and translations into 23 languages is greatly appreciated. Thank you for creating space to showcase the evidence that supports airborne transmission, and collecting reports, media, infographics, and other contributions.

It took the WHO 14 months to acknowledge that COVID is airborne. John Johnson and Barry Hunt, we deeply appreciate your tenacity in seeking acknowledgement and resolution, and for reminding us that misplaced focus can have grave consequences.  

To its-airborne.org, we express our gratitude for the exceptional contribution you have made by creating an interactive timeline that documents the emergence of scientific evidence supporting COVID transmission through aerosols. This valuable work will serve as a significant resource to any future judicial investigations that seek to identify the root causes of insufficient pandemic response. Your unwavering dedication to the pursuit of justice is highly commendable and greatly appreciated. 

Who taught us how to protect ourselves?

Safety doesn't happen by accident.

Image of Image 4: Phases involved in airborne transmission of respiratory viruses. Virus-laden aerosols (100 I1/4m), aerosols can linger in air for hours and travel beyond 1 to 2 m from the infected individual who exhales them, causing new infections at both short and long ranges.
Image 4: Phases involved in airborne transmission of respiratory viruses. Virus-laden aerosols (100 I1/4m), aerosols can linger in air for hours and travel beyond 1 to 2 m from the infected individual who exhales them, causing new infections at both short and long ranges. Credit: N. Cary/Science from a review published on August 27, 2021 by Wang et al.,

While most remained hyperfocused on handwashing, we began targeting the virus in the air. Our team was empowered by individuals who taught us about layered precautions like ventilation, filtration, and germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) light (Image 5). Only “Prather Power” could have brought the CR box and IAQ awareness to the White House. Distinguished Professor Kimberly Prather, we are grateful for you and others who did not stop with one good reason to explain how we know that COVID was spreading through the air! Instead, you exceeded our expectations by publishing at least TEN scientific reasons supporting the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Your sincerity, generosity, and commitment to empowering the Twitterverse that #COVIDisAirborne are matched by none. 

We are grateful to Dr. AJ Leonardi and Dr. AK Mishra who called for a paradigm shift in IAQ standards through measures such as dilution/ventilation and filtration (Image 6). Your argument for clean indoor air is compelling. Thank you for promoting indoor air sanitation under the domain for public health environmental engineering.

As the world erected plexiglass and avoided touching their faces, grassroots movements arose and helped guide us to resources. The Clean Air Crew, thank you for being the first to rise to the occasion and create a website  that offers “airborne tools for an airborne pandemic.” Your contributions have been immensely helpful to those of us seeking clarity and reliable information on how to mask better, promote school safety, and how to isolate from others within a household if COVID positive.

HVAC engineering expert, Joey Fox, your Twitter threads on IAQ offer the best, most efficient solutions. You changed the way we use Twitter by making it an informational resource, and we are grateful to itsairborne.com for curating these and giving your blog posts a much-needed platform. Shakespeare once said that “not everything that glitters is gold.” Thank you for reminding us that NOT every blue or purple light we see is UVC. 

Apricot Tree Café – you are a sterling example of what every business should be. Your state-of-the-art purifiers, CO2 meters, and clean air practices have given your customers and staff the safety everyone deserves.

 

Image of a house with different rooms. You can see the sun outside and ventilation systems. Factors affecting indoor airborne transmission. Whereas the motion of large droplets is predominantly governed by gravity, the movement of aerosols is more strongly influenced by airflow direction and pattern, type of ventilation, and air filtration and disinfection.
Image 5: Factors affecting indoor airborne transmission. Whereas the motion of large droplets is predominantly governed by gravity, the movement of aerosols is more strongly influenced by airflow direction and pattern, type of ventilation, and air filtration and disinfection.
Diagram of different ways to clean indoor air within two categories: dilution/ventilation, and filtration based strategies. Dilution/ventilation strategies include checking air quality, and distance, lower CO2 levels, opening windows, moving activities like lunch and brand practice outdoors, cross ventilating, and operational exhaust fans. Ways of filtering the air include portable air cleaners and improve HVAC filters.
Image 6: Clean indoor air: dilution, ventilation, and filtration based strategies. Credit: Leonardi AJ and Mishra AK (2022). "A Sanitation Argument for Clean Indoor Air: Meeting a Requisite for Safe Public Spaces."

Our perspective broadened as we followed Naomi Wu, China’s top tech and DIY YouTuber. Her work in debunking faulty technology, testing the best CO2 meters under $100, creating stroller PAPRs, wearable UV devices, and tabletop far-UVC lamps has helped make the world a safer place. Naomi’s contributions have raised industry standards and challenged us to elevate our game. Thank you, Naomi, for inspiring us to “drop the duct tape” and strive for excellence.

Thank you, Project N-95, for striving to keep everyone safe and informed. Your nonprofit is at the center of efforts advocating for clean air by regularly hosting Twitter Spaces events, providing a trustworthy marketplace and equitable access to affordable authentic N95 respirators, KN95 and KF94 masks, kids masks, COVID-19 tests, and much more, which protect, prepare and empower people.

Aaron Collins, the Mask Nerd, thank you for testing respirators, providing us with helpful tips, and sharing all your data on mask testing. You have driven the concept of mask fitness into our minds and because of you, we had the guidance we needed to choose the best respirator. We are inspired by your efforts to bring open-source to respirator design. Your channel on YouTube is a testament to your dedication and a clear indication that the masses desire this content. We look forward to your new project providing accessible mask fitting tools and respirator innovation at OpenAeros.

As we learned better, we did better. We stopped washing our groceries and shifted more focus away from surfaces and towards the air. We knew that indoors are the riskiest places for COVID infection and discovered the benefits of monitoring CO2. 

Dr. Kashif “KashPrime” Pirzada, thank you for fighting on the front lines while combatting COVID disinformation and providing a global map of indoor places with good-quality ventilation through @theravenapp.

Alexander Riccio, you are a true promoter of indoor air quality, and we extend our deepest gratitude to you for your work with @co2trackers. Your tireless efforts have brought indoor air transparency to the masses, empowering people with the knowledge and tools they need to breathe cleaner air. Edderic Ugaddan, thank you for utilizing your data skills to improve Indoor Air Quality. We love that you’re providing a platform for anyone to contribute data on safe venues on BreatheSpace.xyz. Your contributions are valued and appreciated.

Professor Joshua Agar, we are moved by your boldness and commitment to keep yourself and others safe by using science-based approaches to guide your actions. We appreciate your work in combating misinformation regarding face shields and we see you promoting safety while playing pool with your N95. We greatly appreciate your invaluable contribution towards educating your students on the risks of infection and the importance of adhering to health and safety protocols. Your commitment to engineering interventions and compliance with health guidelines is commendable, and we are truly grateful for your outstanding efforts in promoting safety and well-being.

Who are the heroes that fought for policy changes?

We began to visualize pandemic protections as layers through the Swiss Cheese Model by James Reason. We watched it evolve through multiple revisions, and as our knowledge grew, we understood that not all layers are equal.

Dr. Seghal and Dr. Milton, we offer our deepest gratitude for the timeless lessons you have imparted on occupational safety and for your application of the hierarchy of controls to COVID safety. As we move down the pyramid our efforts become less effective but we should not forget that respirators can provide a high degree of protection in a world where other mitigations have disappeared (Image 7). Despite this our fight for clean indoor air should go on and we are grateful to those who continue to advocate for this.

Nicolas Smit, you are profound, brave, and unstoppable. We love your incorrigibility and your persistence with reporters and governments. by advocating the effectiveness of respirators and raising awareness about overlooked negligence and communication failures.  Thank you for creating a 29 page report for journalists, experts and the international community to use to learn, prompt further investigations, and seek answers for neglect. We salute you.

To Theo Allen, who petitioned that all workers should be protected by the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard not only in healthcare settings. We express our most profound appreciation.

Image is of the hierarchy of COVID-19 controls. This model is represented "as an upside-down pyramid, with five categories represented in descending order of effectiveness: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE). The Most effective controls are on top of the pyramid at the widest point and the least effective controls are at the bottom. Stay-at-home orders, isolation, and quarantine are elimination strategies. The least effective is PPE such as respirators/ medical masks. Credit: Sehgal NJ and Milton DK (2021.) "Applying the Hierarchy of Controls: What Occupational Safety Can Teach us About Safely Navigating the Next Phase of the Global COVID-19."
Image 7: The hierarchy of COVID-19 controls. This model is represented "as an upside-down pyramid, with five categories represented in descending order of effectiveness: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Credit: Sehgal NJ and Milton DK (2021.) "Applying the Hierarchy of Controls: What Occupational Safety Can Teach us About Safely Navigating the Next Phase of the Global COVID-19."

Thank you, Greta Fox and the World Health Network Covid Action Group, for believing that we can stop the virus and build a safer and better future by mobilizing science and compassion into action to end the spread of Covid.

To Cath Noakes, for championing building ventilation and achieving the recognition of ventilation on the international calendar, World Ventil8 Day. Our team is looking forward to supporting the event this year.

When shit hit the fan, The John Snow Project stepped in to remind us that we have the knowledge and tools to solve this problem, and accelerate the clean air revolution. We commend you on having the best logo, which is quite frankly the shit. Your videos are a much needed reminder to this world that the pandemic is not over, and we appreciate your commitment to promote empirical truths over convenient fantasies.

Mandate Masks U.S., because of you, we knew that we were not alone in taking precautions to avoid infection. Your lists of organizations working on mask advocacy, COVID prevention efforts, and Long COVID advocacy have enabled people to organize. We stand with you as we await the return of Mask Mandate NY on Twitter. 

Amanda Hu, thank you for standing up as a clean air advocate and creating videos on making CR boxes, contributing to promoting fresh air in Alberta schools, and developing a “rebuttal matrix” for when schools reject air purifiers. We’re proud to call you a friend.

Who inspired to us to start making our own air purifiers?

We watched in wonder as widespread testing of existing air purifiers took place and soon began to understand the chatter about CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). Because of citizen science, we have learned that DIY air purifiers outperform and are cheaper than most commercial air purifiers. 

We have seen CADR numbers above 530 CFM (900 m^3/h) with 50 dB noise in the UK and 800 CFM (1440 m^3/h) with 67 dB noise in the US for less than $120. We are grateful to the indoor air quality heroes who have dedicated their time and expertise to sharing open-source research on existing commercial purifiers and fan optimizations, filter variations, and innovations to the DIY air purifier design.

Image of two Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes made with a box fan and 4 MERV 13 furnace filters.
Image 8: Two Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes made with a box fan and 4 MERV 13 furnace filters. Credit: Joey Fox
Image of a graph showing better CADR for CR boxes versus HEPA. (left axis) The number-weighted clean air delivery rate for the various air filters (left axis, bars) as measured in the home office (left hash marks) and classroom (right hash marks). (right axis) The price normalized CADR (black circles), sound level (dark gray triangles), and power (light gray squares)."
Image 9: "(left axis) The number-weighted clean air delivery rate for the various air filters (left axis, bars) as measured in the home office (left hash marks) and classroom (right hash marks). (right axis) The price normalized CADR (black circles), sound level (dark gray triangles), and power (light gray squares)." Credit: Rachael Dal Porto, Monet N. Kunz, Theresa Pistochini, Richard L. Corsi & Christopher D. Cappa (2022) Characterizing the performance of a do-it-yourself (DIY) box fan air filter.

Dr. Marwa Zaatari, your advocacy against the use of unproven and potentially harmful electronic air cleaning devices is invaluable and greatly appreciated. Your dedication to promoting integrity and justice is commendable, and we encourage others to contribute to her defense against the wrongful lawsuit against her through the following this link. 

Dr. Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal, you popularized the concept of a fan filtration unit with your open-source design, and we are grateful. The CR box movement united IAQ specialists and engineers, creating enthusiasts and centering a community around a sustainable infection prevention and control solution.

David Elfstrom, thank you for showing up, optimizing the CR box, and thinking outside of it. Your variations to the design, development of the shroud, and quality testing, including the famous one-filter design, have changed our perception of purifiers

No pun intended, but we are big fans of Stefan Stojanovic. Stefan, thank you for the excellence you put into your work and for promoting the greatness you see in others. Your research on filter media and fans has given us hope that we can bring effective, affordable air filtration products to other places worldwide. 

Image 10: Comparison of DIY versus commercial air purifiers (CADR, noise, and cost). Credit: Dr. Stefan Stojanovic.
Image 11: Comparison of noise, flow, and power of CR boxes using two different fans on three different speeds. Credit: David Elfstrom

Philip Neustrom, thank you for showing us that an air purifier is really just a fan and a filter, even if it’s made from a tissue box and for creating the world’s first home fit testing kit.Your innovative inventions inspire us, especially your feline PAPR

Devabhaktuni “Sri” Srikrishna, your work is of paramount importance and we appreciate all your efforts from testing out different respirators to publishing papers on the CR-Box. Thank you for elevating our standards and helping us understand that we should be demanding ACH between 6-12 for public spaces like schools. Thanks to the passion and dedication of the legendary Robert Weiss, our imaginations have been expanded to what is possible by optimizing PC fan builds, including our favorite 5-fan design. We are grateful for the contributions made by Mr. Weiss to the world of PC fan builds, which has allowed others to create clean air boxes just like yours at cleanairkits.com.

Alex, we extend our sincerest appreciation for your innovative use of PC-fan builds to effectively reduce noise while simultaneously turning up the music and brightness of sound and light. Your remarkable craftsmanship has demonstrated the boundless possibilities of the industry. Your Fandelier Warp Core is magical and you are a catalyst for inspiring others, including the beautiful hanging DIY air purifier by Kai Chang

Image 12: Two Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes made with PC fans made by Clean Air Kits Credit: Joey Fox
Image 13: Fandelier Credit: Alex @CRBOXKIT

PeteUK7, thank you for combatting misinformation while collaborating on the UK DIY storyboard and seeking creative methods to promote the CR box. We see you and your actions have made a difference in the world and inspired self-proclaimed clean air zealots like Councillor Oliver Patrick. We are grateful to you, Oliver, for continuing to raise funds for CR boxes and giving free CO2 meters to businesses in Somerset. We are inspired by the lives touched by and expansion of the organization CAVI, thank you for starting CO2 monitor loan programs in community libraries. We are filled with hope because of the outstanding work done by young robotics enthusiast Shiven Tanjea. Shiven, thank you for caring about the world and giving us hope for the future.

Going from a project to a product

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the World Health Network: Thank you for growing with us as we advocate for clean air. Thank you for providing the space and guidance to allow our team to grow wings. To our project advisors—Dr. Mark Denning, Dr. Geraldine Hamilton, Nathaniel Nerode, and Glasgow Phillips—your attention and time have propelled us forward.

At some point, humanity had to recognize the presence of feces and contamination in the water in order to remove them. This discovery sparked the clean water revolution. While the critical efforts to expand clean water worldwide continue, we realize that today, we stand at the forefront of the clean air revolution. 

Businesses take on problems and our problem is poor indoor air quality. We are grateful to be a part of a community where we have grown through the Corsi-Rosenthal Box movement towards aspirations of mass manufacturing efficient purifiers. Our team at Air Support Project is ready to take the project of DIY air purification into a product so that millions can access cleaner air and safer spaces. 

We have seen the power of transparency and collaboration and in that same spirit we are excited to continue to share our startup experience with you. Please follow us on Twitter and sign up for newsletters and updates below. If your mission aligns with ours or you want to share more about your project, contact us, here. We would love to showcase your work in an upcoming newsletter or article. 

air support project team

air support project team

Authored by Eddie Chu, Mark Denning, Ph.D., Epi-Yeti, and Sarah Masih, MD, MBA.
This content is published under a creative commons — attribution/no derivatives license.

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CLEAN INDOOR AIR IS A HUMAN RIGHT.

Because no matter who we are or where we come from, we're all entitled to the basic human rights of clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land to call home.

MARTIN LUTHER KING III