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Clarkson researchers aid product development that aids children with asthma

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POTSDAM - Children with respiratory issues may breathe easier thanks to an air purification system researched at Clarkson University.

The HEPAirX system was developed and manufactured by Air Innovations of North Syracuse. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Air Innovations clearance to market HEPAirX as a Class II medical recirculating air cleaner, an approval that will allow the company to better promote the product through healthcare channels.

A Clarkson research team led by Andrea Ferro, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Philip Hopke, the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor and director of Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment and Center for Air Resources Engineering & Science (CARES), worked with Air Innovations to test the device. The team received funding in 2006 from the Syracuse Center of Excellence’s Technology Application & Demonstration Program and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to complete the research.

HEPAirX fits into a child’s bedroom window; it filters out indoor air pollutants such as dust mites, pollen, cat dander, mold spores and other allergens many times an hour, while simultaneously filtering additional outdoor air supplied to the room. The device heats cold winter air and cools warm summer air as it filters into the bedroom to keep the temperature constant.

Clarkson conducted two separate studies of 20 and 30 children with physician-diagnosed asthma that revealed significant improvements in lung function and reductions in inflammation when using the device. Those children who used HEPAirX while they slept at night continued to show improvement even after several weeks of not using it.

Following feedback from the first study, the Clarkson team suggested modifications to HEPAirX to make it smaller and more energy efficient and user-friendly while maintaining performance.

“It’s been rewarding to work on something that has a direct impact on people’s lives,” Ferro said. “You can’t control everything, but you can provide clean air when a person is sleeping. If they’re breathing clean air while they sleep, it helps them throughout the day, even though they’re not in that clean environment all the time.”

“It was a pleasure for us to work with Drs. Hopke and Ferro and their team of graduate students on these projects,” said Air Innovations President and CEO Michael Wetzel, P.E., a 1988 Clarkson graduate. “They were extremely responsive to our needs and those of the subjects in the studies. We look forward to continuing to work with Clarkson University as we develop new products and technologies for the HVAC market.”

Air Innovations (www.airinnovations.com) designs and builds specialty air conditioning, refrigeration and environmental control solutions for end-users and original equipment manufacturers around the world.

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