DIY Air Cleaners

The Pacific Institute on Pathogens, Pandemics and Society (PIPPS) is working with the BC Lung Foundation to host the DIY Air Cleaner Project, a community-based initiative that teaches community leaders and members how to build simple devices that improve indoor air quality.

Throughout 2024, the BC Lung Foundation and SFU DIY Air Cleaner Team are supporting communities in their preparations for the wildfire season. Workshops are being hosted throughout Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and the Interior of BC. These sessions are held for people vulnerable to the health impacts of wildfire smoke exposure, particularly older adults, new and expecting mothers, people unable to afford commercial air cleaners, and those living with lung conditions such as COPD, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis.

We would like to thank the following sponsors, which have allowed participants to receive these units at no cost: BC Lung Foundation, First Nations Health Authority, Fraser Valley Regional District, City of Kelowna, Métis Nation of BC, City of New Westminster, Town of Oliver, Pacific Institute on Pathogens, Pandemics and Society, SFU Community Engagement Fund, District of Summerland, and the City of Vancouver.



Step-By-Step Guide (print friendly version)

Shopping List

Safety & Consideration (print friendly version)

OEH Seminar

BC CDC Website

Check out the instructional videos here:

Short Video

Full Video

It is important to note that DIY Air Cleaners are designed only to clean air. Although they use fans, they do not help with cooling and are not a solution for Extreme heat events. For more information on extreme heat, please visit the BC CDC’s Preparing for Extreme Heat Resource page.

Train the Trainer Guide

The SFU Air Cleaner team has developed a ‘train-the-trainer guide’ in consultation with public health officials. The guide is for organizations, municipalities, and emergency management personnel wanting to host their own DIY air cleaner workshops to build resiliency to wildfires and other indoor air pollution. Find it here

For more information on DIY Air Cleaners or if you would like to be involved, contact us at: or call 604-731-5864.

Project lead: Dr. Anne-Marie Nicol

Collaborators: Dr. Vahid Hosseini (SFU, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering), Dr. Menn Biagtan, Dr. Noah Quastel

Researchers: Prem Gundarah, Jenny Huang, Tatiana Parrish, Ravneet Mundi and Elahe Koushkestani

Project Overview:

Poor indoor air quality can occur year-round, directly impacted by outdoor exposures such as fire smoke, traffic-related air pollution, road dust, and pollens. Other important indoor air pollutants include dust mites, mold, bacteria, and viruses. As the global temperature continues to rise and climate change increases, indoor air quality is at greater risk. Cleaning indoor air is one of the most direct ways to improve indoor air quality. While air purifiers are available commercially, they are often expensive and quantities can be scarce during intense fire seasons. PIPPS and the BC Lung Foundation have teamed up to provide a low-cost solution that helps improve indoor air for hard-hit communities and those most at risk. The devices being built are easy to construct and use simple materials that can be locally accessed. The air cleaning capacity of DIY cleaners rivals those of commercial units but at a significantly lower cost.

There are many different variations of DIY Air Cleaners. This project selected a simple 1x1 design using evidence drawn from a rigorous review of DIY research conducted by the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH). These units have been assessed by safety professionals and participants are provided with Safer Use instructions to take home with them. The smaller 1x1 design is optimal for people living in smaller spaces. These units are easier to transport, due to their light weight and smaller build, although larger units are also straightforward to construct and may be more appropriate for larger spaces. The DIY Air Cleaners are not meant to be a long-term solution for poor indoor air quality, but they offer a solution for people seeking respite from wildfire smoke or for when respiratory pathogens are on the rise.


Page Last Updated: 07/05/2024