With the start of another school year rapidly closing in, parents, students and educators alike are understandably looking for every possible way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms. Despite relatively low risks in younger populations and widespread vaccine protection, COVID-19 still poses a very real risk. The new delta variant compounds these risks, thanks to its ability to circumvent vaccine-induced immunity in some cases.
As a possible countermeasure, a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota have been testing portable air purifiers and other air filtration devices in classroom-like settings. As reported by Good Morning America, the team’s findings offer promising evidence that air purifiers in classrooms could add a vital extra layer of protection for students and teachers.
For their test, the researchers constructed a room laid out like a typical classroom. In the center, they placed a mannequin capable of “breathing” a colored aerosol fluid that would then disperse through the air. This allowed the researchers to roughly mimic the manner in which aerosol droplets in human breath, the major transmission pathway of the virus that causes COVID-19, move within a closed space. By measuring the amount of the fluid that was deposited at various points in the room, the team could determine how effective the air purifiers were for limiting the likelihood of virus transmission in the classroom.
The test provided significant evidence for the use of air purifiers in classrooms. Using air purifiers positioned throughout the room, the research team found significant reductions in the spread of the aerosol. The air purifiers also reduced airborne particle concentrations by up to five times. This resulted in higher overall air quality. Given that other research has shown a tentative link between air quality and test scores, this improvement in and of itself is a strong argument for the use of portable air purifiers in schools.
While the results of the research were certainly promising, it’s important to keep in mind that air purifiers are only one part of the puzzle when it comes to protecting students and teachers from COVID-19. Existing HVAC filtration systems, masking and proper distancing all play a role in keeping classrooms safe. For schools looking to add an extra layer of protection, though, investing in portable air purifiers for classrooms may be a good solution.
The best air purifiers to use for COVID-19 protection are those with HEPA filters. HEPA air purifiers can catch virus-sized particles in the air, making them an effective protection measure. While UV germicidal lamps are also useful, the requirement of changing UV bulbs regularly could present technical or financial difficulties for schools.
Some of the best air purifiers for COVID-19 protection in classrooms include the Amaircare 3000 HEPA, Field Controls TRIO and Airpura R600. Schools looking for cost-effective and maintenance-free air purifier may also want to look into the Airfree family of units, which have been shown to effectively reduce viral levels in the air.
Have questions about using air purifiers for classrooms or need help selecting the right units to keep your students safe in the coming school year? We’re here to help! Feel free to contact us for answers and product recommendations to help you find the right air purifiers for your needs.