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With Asthma on the Rise, Blue Skies Develops Air Filters

BOSTON – Blue Skies, a company whose mission is to reduce asthma deaths from air pollution, has developed a portable air filter for infants.

The filter works by stopping particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulpher dioxide (SO2) from being inhaled. It is the first portable filter capable of absorbing these chemical pollutants.

“The biggest thing is people are completely unaware in the U.S. of how terrible air pollution really is,” said founder Jason Munster, a PhD candidate in environmental engineering at Harvard University.

Air pollution is one of the leading causes of asthma. One in 12 Americans suffers from asthma, a respiratory condition that causes a person’s airways to narrow and swell. Asthma cost Americans roughly $3,300 per person with asthma between 2002 and 2007, said the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and immunology.

Munster said he was inspired to create the filter after a trip to China where a high amount of PM triggered an asthma attack.

“I was going for a run in Beijing and I had an asthma attack and I didn’t want that to happen again,” said Munster.

From there, Munster developed and tested the filter in his apartment and through Harvard’s Innovation Lab. He wants the product to be used by adults, but they are starting with infants.

The device works by surrounding the infant with filtered air but the baby has to be in a recessed space like a stroller or car seat, said Munster.

Lab trials using commercially available pollution measurement equipment have been completed, and showed that the air that surrounded an infant in a stroller was effectively reduced, said Munster.

“Next steps once we are running will be to do clinical trials with partnering hospital researchers to show that the device can reduce infant wheezing in cities. Years after that we will begin studies to show efficacy versus asthma, but that is literally a 15 year study,” said Munster.

“We’re going to branch out into having respirators meant for people who have respiratory issues to start with in cities,” said Munster.

Additionally, they are looking to partner with third parties for in home filtration systems, said Munster.

Julia Karron

Julia Karron

    Julia is a 2015 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she studied Psychology and Linguistics. Outside her work at MedTech Boston, she can be found playing ice hockey, cooking, and exploring the DC Metro area. Find her on Twitter @jkitsjulia

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