Community Air Filtration Action

Published on 2024-02-02

Content warnings: COVID, Long COVID

COVID is not over, unfortunately, and somehow the architects of our society have made it through four years of a high-tech pandemic and still haven't bothered installing competent air filtration devices in a meaningful number of buildings.

I, like many Long COVID fearing people still make a point to wear a mask regularly in public, despite knowing that masking is not meaningfully effective at preventing transmission unless everyone's doing it. It stopped being a tool to prevent transmission a long time ago. Now it's more of a symbol--a way to signal to others that we care. There is some value in that, I believe.

I feel like pushing people to wear masks is a pointless exercise at this point. People wore masks because the state told them they needed to, that they needed to if they wanted access public indoor spaces. Now, they're just a recommendation. Unless there is a significant political shift I'm unconvinced pushing masking on an individual level is going to be the "way through this" going forward.

Now, I'm not an epidemiologist, and I'm only an incipient atmospheric scientist. I don't really know the mechanics of an airborne virus. It does bother me quite a bit, though, that the massive push at the beginning of the pandemic was to improve the throughput of mask manufacturing, rather than, say, to improve ventilation systems in existing infrastructure. Maybe that made more sense at the time, or maybe it was just the nature of the powers that be and their obsession with individual solutions to collective problems. But what we're left with now is a return to 2019 levels of virality in the transmission of dangerous respiratory illnesses. This could have been the wake up call they said it would be, and yet here we are, seemingly having learned nothing.

Going to class with a dangerous respiratory illness

I'd like to see events hosted in buildings that are properly ventilated. I'd like to see a systematic push to implement existing technology that'd make the air we breathe on a regular basis more clean.

I'm tired of waiting.

I think instead of encouraging people to mask, I want to spend more effort advocating for better ventilation systems. Getting 1000 individuals to mask can be quite challenging, but installing a sufficient air filtration system could make a meaningful difference for all of them at once. Who would say no to cleaner air?

Regular people can build fairly efficient air filtration systems on their own at home, using materials they could easily find at most hardware and department stores. All it'd take is for a few people who care to get together, build a few Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, and all of a sudden you have community air filtration as a service for event organizers.

Corsi-Rosenthal Box (Wikipedia)

Why should "a few people who care" be responsible for this? Shouldn't event organizers themselves care? Yes, they absolutely should, but I don't think I can trust that they will. Not anymore.

In some sense, I think this would be a sort of publicity stunt. The idea would be to bring attention to the fact that those responsible for building city infrastructure are failing to keep us safe--that we need to take it upon ourselves. A significant part of this initiative would have to be advocacy, because obviously a few people who care cannot alone solve the fact that the buildings we live and work in are not designed to keep our air clean.

It would, however, help remedy the immediate problem of how people with compromised immune systems and anyone afraid of being permanently disabled by Long COVID are essentially barred from public life.

I think doing something like this would be kind of cool. Currently I actually don't have anyone in my offline life who still cares about preventing the transmission of COVID, so that's a pretty significant barrier for me. I'm going to keep looking, though.

It is possible, however remote the possibility, you will have noticed that despite this post being dated on the second of February, it was in fact published on the third. As of me publishing this, it's actually around 2 in the morning. Does this mean I've failed my mission to publish a post every day for 100 days? Nope. It's my challenge and I get to make up the rules. This was originally based on the 100 days to offload thing. I didn't realize until recently that the 100 days were actually supposed to be spread out over the course of a year. Anyways, here we are. I like carving out time every day to do writing, so I don't plan on stopping now.

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