UConn Indoor Air Quality Initiative, Funded Through Cryptocurrency, Works to Protect Schools from Spread of COVID-19

two people preparing an air purifierCOVID-19 cases may be falling, but the virus is still a very real concern for many parents sending their children back to school. UConn researchers are working to ease those worries by building do-it-yourself air purifiers to improve health in schools and other crowded settings. The Indoor Air Quality Initiative, which has already made an impact in Connecticut, is growing, thanks to a generous donation.

The initiative has received a $300,000 grant, funded through cryptocurrency, from Balvi, an investment and direct giving fund established by Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of Ethereum. Ethereum is a technology for building computer applications and organizations, holding assets, transacting, and communicating without being controlled by a central authority. Balvi was established for the purpose of deploying funds quickly to high-value COVID-19 projects that traditional institutional or commercial funding sources tend to overlook.

“Improving the quality of indoor air is a key tool for dealing with covid and future pandemics without any disruption to normal life,” says Buterin. “We are excited to support grassroots initiatives to improve air quality in schools and other public venues.”

The donation will allow UConn to expand the project’s reach and add to the more than 400 purifiers already in schools, libraries, shelters, and other locations throughout the state.

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Clearing the Air: UConn School of Nursing donates air purifiers to Coventry schools

do-it-yourself air purifier

COVENTRY — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many schools with aging ventilation systems have struggled to remove virus-carrying particles from the air. The University of Connecticut School of Nursing has devised an innovative solution, however, that was being installed today in Coventry schools.

Some 150 do-it-yourself air purifiers, known as Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes, built by university students on the Storrs campus over the weekend, were donated to Coventry schools to help them properly ventilate indoor spaces. The purifiers are built from commonly found materials, such as a box fan, air filters, cardboard, and duct tape, said Mikala Kane, UConn School of Nursing spokeswoman.

“I was pretty excited to have this opportunity come this way,” Coventry Superintendent David Petrone said last week. “It’s no secret that our (ventilation) systems are on the older side of things.” There’s no cost to the town for the air purifiers, which come as a result of a partnership between the school district and the university started seven years ago, he added.

“This is a very simple unit that costs about $60 that students, adults, teachers and even our students here at UConn can make, using just these simple materials,” said Marina Creed, a nurse practitioner with UConn Health who spearheaded the initiative with Michelle Cole, an associate clinical professor with the university’s School of Nursing.

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