Student-created company works to curb pollution crisis


Contributed by Filtair

Filtair, a company that creates filters to create clean air, was formed by a group of two Brookline High School students and 13 Boston Latin students who met through a program called Junior Achievement.

Gabe Hernan, Staff Writer

What if a single biker could remove 100 miles worth of carbon emissions from a car in one year? This sci-fi scenario is now possible with a simple air filter made by some high school students.

Filtair, a company started by two Brookline High School students and 13 Boston Latin School students, creates filters that clean the air of pollutants. The group, which met through a program called Junior Achievement that was created earlier this year, wants to spread awareness about the air pollution problem in the United States, especially in urban areas like Boston. Through their hard work and ingenuity they have created a professional project that combats climate change.

Senior Ethan Hoey explained that the as air passes through the filter, it removes pollutants and heavy metals. He said that “it makes the air cleaner for everyone”.

According to junior Ben Nigrovic, creating a product such as Filtair is a complex process.

“There is a lot that goes into making one of these products,” Nigrovic said. “Packaging, website, instagram, and even business cards. We’ve reached out to many business, we’ve gotten it tested, we’ve have talked to professors. You might think it is pretty easy to design a product like this, but it takes a ton of work and a lot of steps.

Hoey said that the filters are most effective when used in an urban environment.

“It depends on how much you bike and where you are biking to, because if you bike in the woods, it makes less of an effect than if you are in the middle of the city,” Hoey said. “But our studies have shown that in the lifespan of the filter with someone biking during normal seasons, it will be able to take out 100 miles worth of car emissions in the lifespan of the filter.”

Junior Tamar Landesman, who has purchased filters from Filtair, believes that the current price of $20 dollars in person and $25 online is “pretty reasonable”.

“Last week I bought the product because I really care about the environment, and because I bike to practice,” Landesman said. “I think it is good not just to bike to work out but also to also help the environment at the same time. It is a good, multi-tasking product.”

Nigrovic said that the group is surprised that Filtair has had such quick success and that their filters have sold so well.

“We have only had the product for three weeks, and we’ve already sold out,” Nigrovic said. “In three weeks, we sold 300 units. We will probably ordering a new shipment soon, since there is higher demand than we would have expected, which is really good.”

On May 7, 2019, Filtair won the Junior Achievement of Northern New England Company of the year, advancing to the national level of the competition.  The group is looking to expand and reach out to more people and different types of business. They are currently in contact with BlueBikes and are setting up meetings with Lime Scooters.

The group’s eventual goal is to put the filter on cars and, according to Nigrovic, they are currently working with experts to run tests on their durability.

“Cars are a big one. We are actually working with a Boston University windlab to see if it can withstand ,” Nigrovic said. “When you bike, you’re going about 20 miles an hour, so we’re not sure if it can withstand the higher speeds of going on a highway.  So, we need to test that, especially since we are thinking of expanding to different modes on transportation.”

Nigrovic said they want to expand to countries with higher pollution rates than the U.S.

“We have only sold in Boston, and we haven’t reached any other countries,” Nigrovic said. “In China and Vietnam and many other Asian countries, cars are less common than bikes and motorcycles, so that’s a huge untapped market. Especially in China, pollution is a lot worse than it is here, so we think that our product has a lot of potential there.”