EPA announces winners of Cleaner Indoor Air during Wildfires Challenge in Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Region 10 press releases
SEATTLE (October 26, 2021) – Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced the winners of the Cleaner Indoor Air during Wildfires Challenge. Challenge winners receive prizes of up to $ 10,000 for their proposed innovative technologies that could be used in homes to purify indoor air during forest smoke events. Three of the five nationally selected winning projects are here in the Pacific Northwest, where longer and more intense wildfire seasons frequently cause unhealthy and even dangerous air quality in many communities. .
“The increasing intensity of forest fires is a major public health challenge,” said Dr. Wayne Cascio, Acting Senior Assistant Administrator for Science in the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The innovative ideas proposed by the winners of the challenge can strengthen our efforts to protect public health and keep the indoor air as clean as possible during forest fires and other events with high air pollution.”
Forest fires release many pollutants that deteriorate the air quality in downwind areas. Particulate pollution, especially fine particles (PM2.5 or particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers), is an important component of smoke from forest fires and a known risk to the health of people exposed to high amounts. or at prolonged concentrations. Exposure to smoke from forest fires is particularly dangerous for people with pre-existing health conditions, such as asthma or cardiovascular disease. Smoke can spread for many miles during forest fires, affecting communities near and far. Recommended responses to reduce exposure to smoke during forest fires are to stay indoors with doors and windows closed, when possible.
Current indoor air purification technologies have multiple limitations that prevent their widespread use, including the cost of purchase, operation and maintenance, as well as reliance on electrical energy, which can be disrupted by continuous forest fires or power outages. Challenge winners developed detailed written proposals for affordable approaches to keeping indoor air as clean as possible during times of high outdoor PM2.5 concentrations, such as forest fires. Winners of this first phase of the challenge will be invited to submit prototypes of their technologies for evaluation in the next phase of the challenge.
EPA Region 10 Challenge Winners:
- Low cost home air purifier requiring no consumables – An air purifier that uses a method called cyclonic separation to remove smoke particles from the air, and this process would be enhanced by adding a fine mist of water to the air flow. Moved by Charles Matlack and Liam Bradshaw, Seattle, Wash.
- The Cocoon: an affordable, affordable air purifier for safer spaces during wildfires – An air filter that uses a large tube-shaped washable cloth filter combined with a box fan to create a low cost device. Submitted by Elliot Gall, Brett Stinson, Matthew Moore and Warren Gunn, Portland State University, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, of Portland, Ore.
- Resonant ultrasonic scrubber for indoor air filtration – An air purifier that uses the movement created by sound waves (ultrasonic agitation) to aerosolize water and mix with smoky air to capture particles in the air. Submitted by Eric Nutsch, BOTE Innovations LLC, of Burley, Idaho.
Read the full descriptions of the winning and honorable mentions on the challenge website: https://www.epa.gov/air-research/winners-cleaner-indoor-air-during-wildfires-challenge.
Learn more about EPA wildfire research: https://www.epa.gov/air-research/wildland-fire-research-protect-health-and-environment