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This 14-year-old DIYs air purifiers for senior citizens: 'I wanted to do my part'

Shiven Taneja, aged 14, began building Corsi-Rosenthal boxes to help his local community when COVID numbers started to rise again.

This 14-year-old DIYs air purifiers for senior citizens: 'I wanted to do my part'
Image Source: ShivenTaneja / Twitter

As another wave of the Coronavirus pandemic hits countries across the world, one teenager is doing his part to mitigate the worst of its effects. Shiven Taneja, aged 14, lives in Ontario, Canada, and builds DIY air purifiers to help senior citizens and small businesses in his area. The young man uses his know-how to put together Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, the DIY air purifying devices developed in 2020 by two air filtration experts, Dr. Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal. Since he first offered to help his community, Taneja has built approximately 20 of these devices for neighbors, local seniors, and even a fencing studio, CBC News reports.


"Anxiety levels were rising again, and over my winter break, I had the time," he said in an interview with The Current's Matt Galloway. "So I felt like, why not just do it?" Initially, Taneja was only going to build a DIY air purifier for his own family. However, as COVID numbers rose, he figured other members of his community would also benefit, especially senior citizens. The teenager shared, "I decided, well, getting the materials [and] actually building it might be hard for elderly people, so I decided I would build it for them."


It usually takes Taneja an hour or two to build one Corsi-Rosenthal box, but he claimed the process of doing so was "surprisingly easy." Once he is done, he charges $150 per air purifier, which is just the cost of the materials. The young boy stated, "The older you are, the harder it is—because you have to continuously bend down and sit. But for me, it's around two or three on a scale of 10." According to the teenager, he has always had an interest in engineering. Previously, he has experimented with popsicle sticks, motors, and 3D printers. The air purifiers are his first large-scale build. While it can be daunting, he was up to the challenge. "I wanted to do my part," he affirmed. "Despite just being 14."


The DIY air purifiers comprise four 3M 1900 grade air filters and a 20-inch box fan. To build the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, Taneja carefully tapes the filters together to form a box shape, and then tapes the box fan on top. He explained, "The fan is blowing up and sucking air through the filters. As the air is pulled through the filters, it removes any particles [that could be] carrying the virus." While it is unclear how many coronavirus particles are filtered out by these boxes, a case study on the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes completed by researchers at the University of California, Davis's Western Cooling Efficiency Center suggests they could be helpful. Indeed, when one outweighs the costs of the air purifier against the potential benefits, they are definitely worth investing in.


This is why the 14-year-old was motivated to build Corsi-Rosenthal boxes for himself and his neighbors in the first place. However, he did not expect to receive the attention he did after tweeting about his project. Taneja said, "I expected, like, a few people at most to order. And maybe 100 likes at most. I could never imagine having this many likes and getting retweeted this many times." Nonetheless, for the young teenager, it is not about the attention. "It feels really good, especially when I deliver a box," he stated. "Knowing that something I created can help someone, it's a really good feeling."


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