MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency visited a Middletown middle school Monday with some exciting news.  

Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, UConn engineering students have built simple, inexpensive air filtration systems. They are made from a box fan, some furnace filters, and some duct tape. Total cost is about $60. The filter was designed by a professor from California and the CEO of an air filter company.

Along with building the filters, UConn students have been showing elementary, middle and high school students in this state how to build them, not only to clean the air in their classrooms but to excite them about STEM classes and the sciences.

“It’s not only a cool, fun thing to build, but it’s something they can actually connect to their everyday lives and helps them connect to how stem and science and engineering can really help people,” said UConn Engineering Professor Kristina Wagstrom, Ph.D.

Middletown sixth grader Eniola Shokunbi asked UConn to help her school learn to build the filters. They did. She sent one to the EPA for testing. The results are remarkable.

According to EPA testing in a carefully controlled chamber, in 30 minutes, the homemade filter removed 97% of the viruses in the air. In 60 minutes, it removed 99.4%.

“These results are much better than many of the very expensive commercially available technologies that we have tested,” EPA scientist Katherine Ratliff said.

Shokunbi would like to see one of these homemade filters in every classroom in Connecticut.

“President Biden, if you are watching this, please, could you please present my plan to Congress?” Shokunbi said.

We don’t know if the president heard, but Connecticut’s lieutenant governor did.

“To make one of these and have one of these in every classroom in this school and in schools across the state just solves the problem, and it’s not expensive,” Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-Conn.) said.

To find out more about the filters and get plans to build your own, visit https://indoorairquality.initiative.uconn.edu/.