Written By Lisa S. Jones / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Researchers have designed a "catch and kill" air filter that can trap the virus responsible for COVID-19 and kill it instantly. The researchers - from the University of Houston and in collaboration with others - reported that virus tests at the Galveston National Laboratory found 99.8 percent of the novel SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was killed in a single pass through a filter made from commercially available nickel foam heated to 200 degrees Centigrade - about 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
It also killed 99.9 percent of the anthrax spores in testing at the national lab, which is run by the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Virus-Trapping Air Filter
The Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston was approached by Medistar as the pandemic was spreading throughout the United States for help in developing the concept of a virus-trapping air filter. Medistar is also proposing a desk-top model, capable of purifying the air in an office worker's immediate surroundings.
"This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19," says Zhifeng Ren, MD, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at UH and co-corresponding author for the paper. "Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society."
The virus can remain in the air for about three hours so a filter that could remove it quickly was a viable plan. The virus can't survive temperatures above 70 degrees Centigrade - about 158 degrees Fahrenheit - so the researchers decided to use a heated filter. By making the filter temperature far hotter - about 200 C - they were able to kill the virus almost instantly.
Nickel foam was used because it met several key requirements. It is porous; allows the flow of air; is electrically conductive, which allows it to be heated; and is also flexible. Since nickel foam has low resistivity which makes it difficult to raise the temperature high enough to quickly kill the virus, the researchers folded the foam, connecting multiple compartments with electrical wires to increase the resistance high enough to raise the temperature as high as 250 degrees C.
The filter was designed to be electrically heated rather than heating it from an external source. This minimized the amount of heat that escaped from the filter and allowed air conditioning to function with minimal strain.
"This novel biodefense indoor air protection technology offers the first-in-line prevention against environmentally mediated transmission of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and will be on the forefront of technologies available to combat the current pandemic and any future airborne biothreats in indoor environments," added Dr. Faisal Cheema of the UH College of Medicine and co-first author on the paper which was published in Materials Today Physics.
Link Between Aspirin And Air Pollution
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin may lessen the adverse effects of air pollution exposure on lung function, says researchers from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and the Boston University School of Medicine.
The researchers analyzed a subset of data collected from a cohort of 2,280 male veterans from the greater Boston area who were given tests to determine their lung function. The average age of participants was 73 years.
The researchers examined the relationship between test results, self-reported NSAID use, and ambient particulate matter (PM) and black carbon in the month preceding the test, while accounting for a variety of factors including the health status of the subject and whether or not he was a smoker.
They found that the use of any NSAID nearly halved the effect of PM on lung function, with the association consistent across all four weekly air pollution measurements from same-day to 28 days prior to the lung function test.
Because most of the people in the study cohort who took NSAIDs used aspirin, the researchers say the modifying effect they observed was mainly from aspirin, but add that effects of non-aspirin NSAIDs are worthy of further exploration. The researchers speculate that NSAIDs mitigate inflammation brought about by air pollution.
"Our findings - in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine - suggest that aspirin and other NSAIDs may protect the lungs from short-term spikes in air pollution," says first and corresponding author Xu Gao, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia Mailman School. "Of course, it is still important to minimize our exposure to air pollution, which is linked to a host of adverse health effects from cancer to cardiovascular disease.”
“While environmental policies have made considerable progress toward reducing our overall exposure to air pollution, even in places with low levels of air pollution, short-term spikes are still commonplace," added senior author Andrea Baccarelli, MD, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia Mailman School. "For this reason, it is important to identify means to minimize those harms."
HEPA Filters Reduce Indoor Pollution When Outside Air Is Unhealthy
Outdoor pollution is a major contributor to pollution that occurs indoors but with the use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA), we now have a chance to reduce fine particulate matter in the air compared to the air with non-HEPA air filters.
Researchers studied the quality of air for 12 weeks in the homes of patients with respiratory problems. They found that the HEPA filters reduced the fine particulate matter by 55 percent. Pollution outside coming indoors was reduced by 24 percent.
"One of the reasons we wanted to research the effectiveness of HEPA air filters in the home is because people often ask what they can do to protect their lungs during poor air quality days," says Denitza Blagev, MD, pulmonary researcher at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City. "We found that running a stand-alone in-home HEPA filter and having the windows in the home closed can provide cleaner air inside the home, especially when outdoor air is so poor."
Fine-particulate matter - which is also known as PM2.5 - are very small airborne particles found in areas with heavy air pollution. PM2.5 particles are about three percent of the diameter of a piece of human hair.
When it is inhaled, it can lead to health challenges like heart attacks and respiratory problems as well as increasing symptoms in people who already have respiratory challenges like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The HEPA filters were tested for efficiency during the winter season in Utah which constitutes temperature changes which often trap cold and dirty air. The major reason for this test is because of rising concerns on how people can protect their lungs in times of poor air qualities.
The test – involving 30 participants - found that running a HEPA filter in the home as a stand-alone with the windows closed provides cleaner air inside the home mostly when the outdoor air is very poor.
During the winter inversion months, the HEPA filters showed that only five percent of the outdoor air PM2.5 contributed to the indoor air quality compared to 28 percent when the HEPA filter was not in use.
The next step was to look at whether the HEPA filter cleans the air indoor enough to lighten the symptoms in patients with asthma and COPD during poor air quality days. Patients with COPD and other respiratory illnesses are often advised to stay indoors during times when PM2.5 is high outdoors.
Protecting patients’ respiratory organs from pollution is a high priority, and the researchers hope to identify more ways to improve indoor health quality and relieve the symptoms.
Overall, the HEPA filter helps with the reduction of PM2.5 inside homes but the quality of outdoor air is a very big challenge. The quality of air we breathe in is very instrumental to the quality of our health as well as the quality of our respiratory organs.
Emphasis must be placed on improving the quality of air in the environment, and the HEPA filter is a positive step in the right direction for overall health benefits.
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Lisa S. Jones is a certified nurse, nutritionist, fitness coach and health expert. Her training credentials include a B.Sc. in Nursing from California State University in 2013 and Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates in 2015. In 2017, she also received Holistic Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.