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Rochester lab's air purifier tests spotlighted on 'GMA'

On ABC's "Good America" show today, reporter Trevor Ault visited The Well Living Lab in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester to discuss a study about the effectiveness of air purifiers to control the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. The Well Living Lab is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and New York City-based Delos Living. The lab tests and develops products and services to make inside spaces, like offices and classrooms, healthier.

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ABC’s “Good Morning America” television show talked to Rochester researchers Wednesday, July 21, morning about air purification systems in the classrooms to keep students safe from COVID-19.

Reporter Trevor Ault visited The Well Living Lab in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

The Well Living Lab is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and New York City-based Delos Living. It opened in 2015.

The lab tests and develops products and services to make inside spaces, like offices and classrooms, healthier.

Working with the University of Minnesota, the lab is conducting a study of the effectiveness of using two air purifiers in a classroom. The study, called “COVID-19 & Beyond: Classroom Air Purification,” is not complete, but researchers from the Well Living Lab and the university discussed the early results from their tests.

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Dr. Zachary Pope of The Well Living Lab and the U of M’s Chris Hogan explained the experiment which involved setting up a “breathing” respiratory mannequin in a 900-square-foot “classroom” created inside the lab. The mannequin “breathed” 1 to 3 micrometer particles that had been tagged with fluorescent dye.

Researchers then checked 70 surfaces, including desks and iPads, to see how droplets spread. They compared the results with and without the use of three Healthway portable air purification units.

Hogan said the early results show that the three air purifiers reduce the spread of droplets by five times compared to not using the purifiers.

When asked about how parents should feel about the results, Well Living Lab Research Director Dr. Bruce Johnson said this should help allay some fears for when students return to the classroom.

“It just provides another layer of security for people,” he said.

The Rochester lab employs 25 people. As a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Delos, the staff all wear Mayo Clinic employee badges.

Watch the " Good Morning America" segment here.

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