Coronavirus: California city protects bus drivers with air cleaning tech


The city of Turlock has announced it will become the first in California to install air cleaning devices across its entire operational bus fleet, as it looks to protect its drivers from the risk of airborne transmission of coronavirus.

Turlock Transit, the city’s transit agency, plans to install 20 AirLabs AirBubbl air cleaning devices in the driver cabins of its buses by the end of the month, including eight devices which are already installed. The AirBubbl removes more than 95% of airborne viruses and contaminated particulate matter and floods the driver area with over 30,000 liters of clean air every hour, creating a clean air breathing zone for the driver to keep drivers safe.

California is one of the US regions hit hardest by coronavirus, with more than 30,000 registered deaths and more than 2.7M registered cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The high level of coronavirus in the region is putting hospitals in the state under immense pressure, with 88.2% of intensive care beds occupied in the seven-day period from the start of January.

The AirBubbl is equally effective at removing air pollution, including harmful ozone gases, nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and particle air pollutants PM2.5 and PM10, playing a vital role in protecting drivers long after the pandemic has passed.

California ranks as the state with the worst air quality in the US. Data suggests that more than 90% of Californians breathe unhealthy levels of air pollutants every year and over 38 million residents live in counties where ozone or particle pollution placed their health at risk. California’s air pollution problem is multifaceted with worsening wildfires, high traffic levels and climatic factors all contributing to the issue.

The link between air pollution and COVID-19 mortality rates is well established. In North America, 17% of Covid-19 deaths can be attributed to long term exposure to air pollution.

“California is the epicentre of the COVID-19 crisis in the US, and keeping public transit safe and operational during this time is crucial for ensuring that the public can continue to travel safely,” says Marc Ottolini, CEO, AirLabs. “Professional drivers are one of the most at-risk groups from COVID-19 and forward thinking public transit operators across the world are deploying our innovative air cleaning technology to cut the risk of infection for drivers, protect them against air pollution and keep services running.”

The compact AirBubbl air purifier

AirLabs, the UK-based company behind the AirBubbl device, has also developed a new air cleaning device for the passenger cabins of public transportation, including bus and rail. AirLabs AiroSafe is designed to remove airborne virus particles from the passenger cabins of public transport, by creating a personal clean air zone for every seat. The company aims to install the first AiroSafe units early this year and is currently setting up strategic partnerships with public transport manufacturers and operators.


Share this story:

About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).