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Can a Classroom Air Purifier Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools?

The world has been reeling from a global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 for more than a year now, and at the time of writing this piece, it doesn’t show any signs of relenting: every few months a new variant of the virus complicates life for millions of people around the world.

One particular sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic has been education: organizations like the UNICEF, OCED, the EU, and many others have been ringing alarm bells. Students can stand to lose months, if not years, of education if schools aren’t properly managed during the pandemic.

Schools themselves are under unbelievable pressure:  on one hand, you have parents (worried about their children) constantly demanding higher safety standards from the schools and government agencies trying to enforce new guidelines that make schools safer. On the other hand, you have parents that mistrust the government and want the schools to behave in a specific way.

A school can’t satisfy every parent, but it can adopt solutions that are novel, high-tech, inconspicuous, and effective against the spread of COVID: Air purifiers is precisely that. In this article, we’ll go over how air purifiers work to reduce the spread of COVID, why you should consider installing them in your school, and how to choose the best air purifier for your school.

Air Purifiers: How Do They Work? How Do They Reduce the Risk of the Spread of COVID?

Concerns about air quality, a growing awareness of air pollution, and more recently, the desire to counteract the spread of airborne diseases have all resulted in a resurging interest in air purifiers. So, how do they work and how can they help reduce the spread of COVID? We’ll answer both of these questions in this section.

How do Air Purifiers Work?

How air purifiers work can actually vary a great from one model to another, but they all essentially perform a core function: they take particles out of the air.

The primary particles most air purifiers are capable of removing from the air are allergens, toxins, and pollutants. Higher-quality models are capable of also out particles that carry bacteria and viruses also, and this is in addition to sanitization features that can render most of them harmless to humans.

Can Air Purifiers Really Work to Counteract COVID-19?

How has COVID been so effective? The answer to this question will help you answer whether air purifiers can help reduce its spread or not.

There are two primary reasons COVID has been so successful in spreading so far:

1. it has an amazing capacity to spread. The virus primarily spreads through airborne particles. And the virus can survive for up to a week outside in these particles hung in the air or stuck to surfaces.

2. There are certain demographics (children and adults younger than 55+) that have the potential to get sick without displaying any serious symptoms. This makes them excellent carriers for the virus.

Air purifiers, as we mentioned in the section above, work by filtering out particles and sanitizing the air, and this counteracts COVID-19’s greatest strength. This is why organizations from the Environmental Protection Agency in the US to the National Health Service in the UK have come out and stated air purifiers are an effective measure against COVID.

Why Should a School Choose an Air Purifier to Deal with COVID-19?

Although we’ve established that air purifiers can be an effective tool to contain the spread of COVID, we all know that’s not the only way you can contain the spread of the virus. So, the next question becomes, why should you choose an air purifier for your school as a way to prevent the spread of the virus over potential alternatives?

#1 Unobtrusive and Works Greatly with Other Measures that Limit COVID’s Spread

Schools are a sensitive environment, and the students’ ability to study, interact with their teachers, and communicate with their fellow students are paramount. Sadly, many methods that limit the spread of the virus come with a steep cost: worse educational outcomes.

This isn’t the case with air purifiers, especially ones from Air8: they’re unobtrusive, plug-and-play, and silent to allow your students to focus in class. They’re the perfect device to provide your classroom with extra protection from COVID-19. And we’ve only scratched the surface: if you want to learn how our high-quality, medical-grade air purifiers help combat COVID, you can read about it here.

#2 Affordable and Accessible

Compared to some methods, installing air filters can be really inexpensive. Just as an example, the World Health Organization recommends increased ventilation as a way to reduce the spread of COVID in classrooms. Depending on the design of the school, however, retrofitting the school to increase ventilation can cost tens of thousands of dollars alone. This is not to mention opening windows isn’t an option if your classrooms face busy roads in London or Liverpool.

Compare that to air purifiers from Air8: they’re inexpensive, they don’t need any retrofitting to be installed, and they can be financed directly or through loans. These make air purifiers accessible and affordable.

#3 Proven to Work

Due to how fast-moving is everything about COVID-19, a lot of the measures against its spread are experimental with limited evidence they actually work. This isn’t true for air purifiers: studies with real-world data have proven that air purifiers have a measured impact on the spread of COVID by filtering the virus-carrying particles from indoor air. This is why a lot of hospitals around the world have installed or upgraded air purifiers recently.

What Are The Qualities You Should Look for in an Air Purifier?

Although largely all air purifiers can reduce the spread of COVID to some degree, how effective they are will vary greatly from one model to another. Not to mention, if you want to buy air purifiers for schools, there are certain qualities you need to look for.

H13+ HEPA Filters

To understand what kind of air purifier you need for a school, we first need to learn a little bit about HEPA standards: High-efficiency Particulate Air (or HEPA) is an efficiency standard for air filters. It was developed during WW2 to protect soldiers from chemical attacks, and this is a testament to its efficacy.

HEPA standards haven’t remained stagnant, however, and the standard has been seen a few updated iterations since then, and this has resulted in us having many ‘grades’ of HEPA ranging from H10 to H14. Air filters with a higher HEPA grade are more effective at removing small particles and filtering the air. ‘True’ or ‘Normal’ HEPA refers to air filters that comply with standards ranging from H10 to H12. These filters are capable of removing only 85-99.5% of all particles that are 0.1 microns in diameter.

Sadly, the airborne particles carrying COVID are usually as small as 0.1 microns, and this means that H10 to H12 HEPA filters are unable to effectively remove a sufficient amount of these particles from the air. They still meaningfully reduce the risk of the spread of COVID, especially H12 filters, but they remain inadequate.

 

This is where HEPA H13 and H14 filters come in. HEPA air purifiers installed with H13 filters can remove 99.95% of particles 0.1 microns in size, and H14 filters are even more effective removing 99.995% of such particles. This is why air purifiers with these filters installed are called ‘medical-grade’.

If one of the primary purposes of installing air purifiers in your classrooms is to counteract the spread of COVID (or remove airborne viruses other than COVID), you should definitely go with ones that have either H13 or H14 filters installed.

Compactness and PnP

You have very limited space in classrooms; this is especially true for kindergartens and primary schools where the students are very active and move around a lot. You don’t need a solution that takes a lot of space, requires a lot of bells and whistles to work, and impedes the movement of students and school staff.

These are why you need to look for a compact, plug-and-play air purifier for the classrooms. These save you a lot of trouble, keep your classrooms spacious for the students, don’t require expensive retrofitting jobs, and can be installed in virtually every room, and can be moved or removed easily if your needs ever change.

Modern Features

Air purification technology, like all other types of technology, is constantly advancing, and this shows. Air purifiers with modern features are smart: they can be pre-programmed to work only during the school’s opening hours, they can work in silent mode during active lectures to allow the students to properly focus in class, and they can help regulate indoor air quality far more effectively. And they do all that while having lower energy consumption.

This is why schools need modern air purifiers with robust features. They will create a better environment and save school staff a lot of hassle in the long run.

Additional Benefits of Air Purifiers for Schools

In addition to helping reduce the spread of COVID in schools, air purifiers improving indoor air quality has a number of additional benefits that schools would probably want, and in this section, we’ll go over the more prominent ones.

#1 Filtering Out Allergens

Air-borne allergens are difficult to deal with, and allergic reactions by students or teachers not only have the potential to disrupt classes, but they can also result in potential health complications. This is particularly relevant to children, who generally are more sensitive to allergens and suffer worse reactions.

This is not the case if you have air purifiers installed in the classrooms. A competent air purifier with multiple filtering stages will be capable of filtering out most airborne allergens effectively. This not only means that many school staff members and students won’t suffer from allergic reactions, even during allergy seasons, but those who do suffer milder reactions simply because there are fewer allergens in the air.

#2 Removing Bad Odours

Bad odours are very common in classrooms: whether it is due to unexpected accidents, kids playing around, or various school activities. And bad odours not only detract from the students’ experience in school, but they can also lead to worse educational outcomes. Not to mention, a  school’s image is greatly influenced by how clean and welcoming its classrooms are, and bad odours will certainly lead to the school having a bad image among the community (and potentially parents).

Thankfully, high-quality air purifiers can neutralize a lot of bad odours in the air and make the air quality inside the classroom feel superb. Although, it depends on the air purifier. Here at Air8, each of our air purifiers has multiple filtration stages, and each filtration stage has its strengths and weaknesses, but together, they create a really effective device. The carbon filtration stage, for example, is really good at neutralizing bad odours and making the air feel fresh.

#3 Eliminating Bad Chemicals

Although societies around the world have made impressive strides to improve air quality in cities and suburbs, sadly, the efforts are still inadequate. Schools located in dense cities, on busy streets, or near congested roads have particularly bad air quality filled with a lot of bad chemicals from nitrogen dioxide to carbon monoxide. These chemicals have a lot of negative effects on both the schools’ staff and its students.

Air purifiers can help with this issue, as well. Air purifiers not only can filter out harmful chemicals from the air, but they can also encourage chemical reactions that transforms harmful chemicals and toxins into harmless particles. Air purifiers that have a Cold Catalyst filtration stage can do that.

#4 Sanitizing the Air

You can rely on a high-quality air purifier not just to reduce the spread of COVID in your establishment but to also reduce the spread of many other diseases. There are studies that show air purifiers are also capable of reducing cold and flu infections, too, just as an example. If you want to reduce the spread of diseases generally, investing in air purifiers for your school is probably a good idea.

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