‘We studied how fast air spreads:’ Fresno State researchers show how to limit airborne viruses

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FRESNO, Calif.(KSEE) — On Wednesday, the Fresno State Transportation Institute revealed findings on how to reduce the spread of airborne viruses, such as COVID-19.

The use of buses and other public transportation has decreased dramatically during the pandemic.

Researchers led by Fresno State studied the airflow of buses from the Fresno County Rural Transit Authority back in May and the results they came up with could save lives.

“We studied how fast air spreads and how fast it clears inside public transportation, we used different technologies, we used non-toxic colored candles, we used steam, we developed new models, we actually measured the airspeed and direction on the inside of the bus,” said Dr. Aly Tawfik, director of the Fresno State Transportation Institute. 

The teams used live viruses to conduct their research. They discovered the viruses could spread throughout the entire bus and its ventilation system within seconds of it being released.

After about five months of testing different technologies to stop COVID, a preliminary report highlights multiple solutions, including using UV-C Lights.

“The UV lights that we tested were actually UV lights that you can purchase from any department stores,” he said.

Tawfik says they also tested air purification technology.

“Photocatalytic oxidation inserts remove the viruses in all avenues in all experiments removed more than 99% of the viruses from the air and positive pressure, which means creating adding more air into the bus, so adding more fresh air into the bus limited, prohibited the settlement of viruses on surfaces by 100 percent.”

When they tested antiviral materials such as copper and foil to air filtration systems it also eradicated the virus.

Tawfik says they are working with several agencies and hope to introduce their findings to commercial businesses, airlines, schools, and even homeowners.

He says they hope to have even more information in January 2021.

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