air quality

Poor air quality is associated with all manner of health problems. The fires raging in the west of the United States have led to irritating smoke wreaking havoc on the respiratory tracts of many people in affected areas. And as importantly, we are in the midst of a second wave of viral activity in pockets across the country.  When we find ourselves in situations where the air is less than optimal, it’s important to mitigate or modify exposures where we can, such as at home using an air filter, so that possible harmful impacts are minimized.

Here is an easy and affordable do-it-yourself home project from Paul Perscu, ND MPH to help clean the air in your home.

It’s economical, home-made, Box Fan Air Filter System (see the instructional video below).

  1. This fan will decrease particulate matter including many toxins, smoke, and germs.
  2. This quick, affordable filtration system is made with a box fan and air filter, both inexpensive and readily available at hardware and home stores.
  3. As an added bonus, viruses often attach to other particles for transmission purposes. A filtration system like this can capture viruses and their carrier molecules.
  4. Choose a 20-by-20-inch floor fan.
  5. For the filter, choose one with a MERV rating of 13 (or higher or FPR 10) ,which traps and removes smaller particles. These filters remove dust, lint, pollen, dander, mold spores, bacteria, microscopic allergens, virus carriers, smoke, and smog particles.
  6. Look at the arrow on the edge of the filter to see which way the filter should be attached. The arrow should point to the back side of the fan.
  7. With a roll of packing tape, secure the filter on all four sides to the back of the fan. Taping more than one filter will not make this system work better; it will put too much strain on the fan. One filter will suffice.
  8. Run the fan on low to filter the air in the room it is placed. Use multiple fans across rooms in your house if need be.

IMPORTANT: Keep the fan on only when someone is home and mind the children to keep curious fingers away.

Many pollution exposures are difficult to control, so it is important to modify our exposures whenever possible. In time, as the scientific data is gathered and appreciated, hopefully, we will as a society, across cultures, create better environmental policy and enforcement and find solutions for centuries-old habits that alas, are not leading to optimal health.

 For further information on air filters see here.

 Other version of DIY air filter: and

Questions for EPA about air quality in the house, including portable air filters:

Amy Rothenberg ND, DHANP is a contributor to INM and practicing licensed naturopathic doctor in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dr. Rothenberg is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg’s writing can be found on, Better Nutrition’s Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, andThe Huff Post. She is the proud mother of 3 adult children.

Paul Herscu, ND, MPH, DHANP developed the video for immediate public use at this time. He practices with his wife, Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP, at their Naturopathic Health Clinic. When not with patients, Dr. Herscu enjoys working in the field of public health to benefit people everywhere.

This article is sponsored by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following  initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine