As vaccines roll out and small businesses are allowed to reopen with expanded capacity, many customers are concerned about air quality in the businesses they frequent.
Molekule, an air purifier company headquartered in San Francisco, just announced it will donate $1.5 million worth of its Air Mini air purifiers to small businesses nominated by their fans to help small businesses get back and up and running. The company will be donating 4,000 Air Mini devices, which are designed for smaller spaces in a business or home. Businesses must be incorporated in the U.S. or D.C., have a physical storefront and no more than five locations. Hair salons, restaurants, clothing boutiques and small retail stores are eligible. So are one-person businesses. The nomination period ends on April 9 at 11:59 PT. (The nomination form is here). Each nominator can suggest up to three local businesses.
“Much of the guidance today on reopening, as it relates to air quality, includes the improvements needed to the building HVAC system,” said Jaya Rao, Molekule’s CEO and co-founder, in an emailed statement. “This can be hard and expensive to do in a short timeframe and oftentimes, small business owners don’t have access to do this in their space. This is in the control of their landlord or building owner. Our air purification units don’t require that. They can be plugged in and begin scrubbing and circulating the air immediately. With technology that has been proven to destroy things like airborne viruses and bacteria, we feel Molekule can provide an extra layer of protection that businesses may need for staff and customers to feel safer indoors.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have published extensive recommendations for ventilation in buildings in the COVID era. They include steps such as increasing outdoor air ventilation by opening windows and doors, using fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows, ensuring ventilation systems work properly and are well-maintained, improving central air filtration and considering high efficiency particulate fan/air filtration systems to help enhance air cleaning—especially in areas where is a greater likelihood that people with COVID-19 will spend time. The CDC further addresses the use of portable air filters in a Q&A section and recommends that consumers “request testing data that quantitively demonstrates a clear protective benefit and occupant safety under conditions consistent with the intended use.”
“Preferably, the documented performance data under as-used conditions should be available from multiple sources, some of which should be independent, third party sources,” the agency adds.
Research at the University of Minnesota found that Molekule’s devices inactivate 99.9% of the H1N1 flu virus and coronavirus strains. They rely on a patented photo electrochemical oxidation technology that also destroys pollutants, such as VOCs, mold, bacteria, viruses and allergens, according to the company.
Molekule’s founder and chief scientist Yogi Goswami invented its technology as a professor at University of Florida when his son Dilip Goswami, now the company’s president and CTO and an engineer, suffered from serious asthma and allergies. Dr. Goswami spent 20 years in research to fine-tune the technology. Jaya Rao, the company’s CEO, is also an engineer and Dr. Goswami’s daughter.
“Our hope is that our Air Mini devices will help ease some of the uncertainties in our communities across the country as we all reemerge from lockdown,” Rao said in her statement.