This is a request for the Executive Branch to pursue the research, prototype development and testing of a concept for a lightweight, low cost, wearable device designed to be worn consistently and which has the potential to greatly reduce the airborne transmission of Covid-19. The proposed device would incorporate existing technologies which have already been proven to fight viruses. It would lessen the prospect of the airborne transmission of Covid-19 by providing a means to significantly cleanse the nearby air which would likely be drawn into the lungs with breathing. It would also cleanse the air which is exhaled (helping to protect others). If testing confirms the suspected potential of this device in greatly reducing the airborne transmission of Covid-19, it is further requested that the Executive Branch put out bids for its manufacture and mass distribution.
It should be noted that if it works as anticipated, it would enable most people to return to normal work functioning and dining/entertainment engagements, even if Covid-19 has not been completely eliminated. Thus, there would be a greatly reduced chance of ever having lockdowns again. Furthermore, it could find immediate use in any future pandemics or dreaded biological weapons releases in the age of CRISPR.
The device in question can be briefly described as a form of headset, similar to what one could expect an operator in a call center to wear. The key component of our envisioned "headset" is the arm that comes around the side of the face to position a small microphone near the mouth. Except in this proposal, there would be two arms, one on each side of the face, which would terminate in respective areas just to the side of the nose and mouth. Furthermore, in the places on each arm where a microphone would have existed in a telephone headset, this device will instead house two respective negative ion generators, with or without supplemental emitters for Far UVC light. These components, the negative ion generators and Far UVC light emitters (which would, in one design option, create a small "light wall" in front of the mouth and nose), would enable the nearby air to be thoroughly cleansed as they both have virucidal properties.
This proposed device is expected to have its greatest effect in the interiors of buildings and vehicles (of assorted types), where there are no breezes or onrushing flows of air.
Regarding negative ions, they have the propensity to weigh down particulates in the air (including microorganisms) and cause them to fall to the ground. In other words, negative ions cause microorganisms to become less accessible to breathing by most people, at least while sitting, standing or in a bed. Furthermore, there is research which indicates that negative ions can kill viruses outright. Far UVC light is said to be capable of killing viruses with a brief exposure, while not harming humans. If the proposed research by the Executive Branch further validates that negative ions from negative ion generators, as well as Far UVC light, can indeed have either or both of these effects, the case in support of their use would be further solidified.
Please note that the proposed Far UVC light component is discussed in greater depth in later text. Our initial emphasis, just below, will be on negative ions.
Stand-alone negative ion generators, made primarily for home use, have been in existence for many years. Of particular interest in presenting this idea are the versions companies have made which can be worn around the neck, as shown here: https://www.npr.org/2016/05/12/477836061/in-polluted-india-negative-ion-necklaces-vow-to-help-you-breathe-easier ; http://www.businessworld.in/article/Air-Tamer-A-310-The-Personal-Air-Purifier-Device-Review/16-08-2019-174880/ ; https://thegadgetflow.com/portfolio/wearable-air-purifier/ ; https://newatlas.com/sponsored-content/air-purifier-airbox-portable-indoor/ ; https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/constantinnov/airbox-more-powerful-than-hepa-purifiers (small, but not designed for wearing; this one also incorporates UV light). The mere existence of these "necklace" type of negative ion generators testify to the rationale of having such devices somewhat near the face. Those designs are more discrete and aesthetically pleasing; they do not appear as the blatantly (and admittedly) distracting to the eye as what is being proposed here. But in our situation, fashion and presentation is irrelevant.
Negative ion generators have been mentioned very sparsely during the Covid-19 pandemic, even with their reported benefits. Despite their negligible use, to date, there is sufficient research available to suggest that active consideration of them in a smaller, portable form as a viable weapon against Covid-19 is merited. See the following in this regard:
Successful study with viruses: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep11431
Ionizer destroys acinobacter in hospital: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3228-air-ionisers-wipe-out-hospital-infections/
An aircraft ionization system: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2015-10-09/ionization-system-removes-pathogens-cabin-air
Active against Salmonella: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2000/mar/salm
A listing of studies compiled by a manufacturer: https://www.surroundair.com/negative-ions/
Effective against Newcastle virus: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2130090/pdf/jhyg00043-0066.pdf
Effective with viruses:
Role with antibody treatment:
Use in hospitals:
Example of Bipolar ionization:
Plasmacluster ions – effective against viruses:
A few available products:
Support in Scotland:
Nonthermal Plasma Reactor (Cold Plasma) – an advancec negative ion generator – Effective against viruses:
This discusses only ozone: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2020-02/26/content_75747237_4.htm ; https://www.ozonepartner.com/poultry
As indicated above, various companies have already invented wearable "necklace" negative ion generators. It is unknown whether or not the existing devices would truly work as intended. If they actually work well, logic dictates that they might work even better if placed on the above-described headset arrangement. In determining what would work in a wearable negative ion generator, two specific concerns should be kept in mind. First, we would want enough negative ions generated in the vicinity of a person's mouth and nose on a constant basis to greatly inhibit the inhalation of live Covid-19 (in case a wearer is not infected). This desired coverage area would be less than what is needed for exhalations. Ideally, with a headset negative ion generator, any Covid-19 lingering in the air would have already been neutralized if it had drifted near the face. This assumes an indoor environment without a fan blowing nearby, or situations where a person is not walking. Walking would quickly bring a person into new "environments" where any wearable negative ion device would not have time to have an effect on inhaled (or exhaled) air. Second, in cases where a wearer is already infected, we would want coverage in the area beyond the mouth and nose where any virus particles from at least shallow or deep exhalations, or speaking, can be expected to reach before they attain a "lingering" or "drifting" status. This would seem to pose more of a challenge than coverage of inhalations. It seems reasonable to assume that the immediate dispersal area of a shallow or deep exhalation, or the act of speaking, would be considerably less than that of a sneeze or cough. But once something has been expelled into the air, irrespective of the velocity in which it was done, it can stay in the air and eventually waft away many feet away from the person who exhaled. As indicated above, this means we should strive for coverage of any area where an exhalation would tend to start lingering, while the person exhaling is sitting or standing still. Thus, a larger coverage area than what would be needed for inhalations. It would be too much to expect coverage of cough and sneeze particles; such acts can be addressed by another unique strategy (not discussed here).
Having concluded that we need a coverage area to address exhalations and speaking, which would likely surpass the coverage area needed for inhalations, we would also have to consider whether or not a person wearing a headset is also wearing a mask or respirator. Since there is no guarantee that a person wearing the proposed device will simultaneously be wearing a face covering, the goal should be to address an uncovered face. However, if exhalations of people wearing face coverings escape from the sides, the trajectories of such exhalations should also be taken into account.
It is unknown as of this writing whether or not the current "necklace" portable negative ion generators on the market would meet these expectations. If they do, that's great; let's get more of them to the general public right away. However, I suspect they do not meet our expectations as touched upon above.
In the headset design, neither the negative ion generators or Far UVC lights should be directly in front of the mouth and nose. If they are instead positioned to the side a bit, the wearer would be able to eat without having to remove the device. This would be of great help in reopening the country, particularly when considering the restaurant and entertainment industries.
The other major component in the proposed headset design is, of course, Far UVC light.
The following links provide insights on UVC:
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200325-covid-19-the-history-of-pandemics ; https://www.digitaltrends.com/news/can-uv-light-kill-coronavirus/ ; https://www.rfsafe.com/207-222-nm-uvc-light-can-slow-spread-of-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/ ; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21058-w .
This suggests that Far UVC can be provided in LED form:
This has more information on Far UVC:
Regarding Far UVC lights, it differs in part from negative ions in that its actions are limited strictly to an area outlined by the light. Negative ions, on the other hand, address a "generalized", borderless area of a constantly changing shape and size; similar to how a cloud would act.
As alluded to above, we should consider incorporating Far UVC light emitters in the vicinity of the dual negative ion generators, to form (in one scenario) a "wall" in front of the nose and mouth that would kill any nearby Covid-19 in the process of being inhaled (and having escaped negative ions) or any Covid-19 which is exhaled. However, for inhalation, we cannot assume that air would enter in a straight line, through a "wall". The inhaled air would come primarily from what is in the immediate vicinity of the mouth or nostrils. Thus, inhaled air would come from all directions under the influence of air pressure. Therefore, for inhalation purposes, Far UVC lights could, in an alternative to what was mentioned above, be positioned far enough away to "paint" the mouth and nose area, covering an area which would contain air that is likely to be inhaled. The skin would be hit in this option. The light emitters would not be two feet out (completely unworkable), but perhaps inches out. The light would also have to be like a spotlight, not a fine and narrow laser outlining a defined area. Since Far UVC does not harm humans, one could argue that it is OK for it to be pointed directly at the above mentioned facial areas. But to be safe, a side to side illumination (headset arm to headset arm), creating the "wall" as discussed previously, might actually be better. Experts would need to decide on this. As for exhalation, we would need to see if the arrangement for inhalation would also address the propulsive nature of an exhalation. Exhaled air would need to persist in the immediate vicinity long enough for the Far UVC to have an effect. This may not be possible; research would tell. However, an application of Far UVC to address inhalation, at a minimum, might work.
If this device was found to be feasible, all types of health care settings, work settings, transportation settings and entertainment/dining settings would be much safer for the people who work there. They would also increase public confidence in the safety of such settings and, in turn, increase public patronage at such sites. And that will be a tremendous boost to the economy.