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June 05, 2008

Missouri Contractor Bags Airborne Pollutants

Moairnetsheehancolumbini

After a decade on the job, Patrick Sheehan, a contractor and Sierra Club member from Washington, Missouri, realized he was breathing in harmful airborne pollutants while working on remodeling jobs and kitchen demolitions. "I'd been relying on plastic sheeting and duct tape to contain the dust, but that was failing miserably," he says. "Wearing a mask doesn't really work because your eyes, hair, and skin are all exposed to the stuff, and blowing it outside into the yard is harmful to the atmosphere."

Using principles he learned in the Marine Corps while studying jet propulsion, Sheehan designed a less wasteful, more effective, and more elegant solution: a hybrid fabric "air net" that straps onto virtually any fan and effectively captures drywall, concrete, wood, insulation, and plaster dust. He and his partner, longtime Missouri Sierra Club member Charlene Colombini, tested the prototype by dropping 175-year-old plaster ceilings loaded with coal dust and thick layers of dirt. "The net performed beautifully," Colombini says.

"I've seen a bathroom filled with concrete dust cleared in 45 seconds," says Sheehan. "Once the fan is turned on, the air net will clear a typical 300-square-foot room in minutes and keep it clear for hours." And unlike plastic sheeting and duct tape, which have to be thrown out or recycled, the air net is washable and can be used again and again. Sheehan says one 3-year-old net he's using still performs like new. Colombini, a survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma, which compromised her immune system, says she will no longer do any home improvement project that produces dust without using the air net.

Airnet

Sheehan and Colombini are now marketing the "Demo Air Net," which comes in round and square sizes, above, for about $40. "I'm excited to bring into the construction field a simple and affordable method of dealing with a dangerous problem," Sheehan says. "It creates a safer environment for clients, kids, workers, and anyone exposed to a jobsite, it saves time and money, and it substantially reduces the carbon footprint of the jobsite."

Learn more and watch a video of the air net in action here.

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