Prior to the pandemic, many schools, colleges, and universities had indoor air quality challenges, but the past 18 months has brought a heightened awareness to a growing problem. Forty percent of the nation’s school systems need to replace at least half of their HVAC systems, according to a 2020 study by the Government Accountability Office.
Proper ventilation is a key prevention strategy for mitigating pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, as well as reducing dust, allergens, and VOCs to improve health and well-being.
Many school, district, and higher education leaders are working to improve indoor air quality for their facilities and the government has offered funding to supplement those costs.
Most recently, the Department of Education introduced the American Rescue Plan (ARP), allocating funds which can be used specifically to improve indoor air quality in schools- specifically including system upgrades, filtering and purification, as well as inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrading of projects in school facilities.
The ARP provides $122 billion for the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. The ESSER funds and Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds provided under earlier appropriations can also support this work. The original ESSER and GEER funds are available until 9/30/2022 while a second round of funding is available until 9/30/2023.
But there remains a lot of confusion about expectations of these devices; what they truly are – and aren’t – capable of. Here’s what you want to consider before installing these devices in your facility:
What do air purifiers really do?
Air purification is the improvement of indoor air quality by bringing in fresh air, filtering the air in a room at least 3 times every hour, and/or using advanced technologies such as BPI or PCO to actively reduce pollutants in the space.
Air purifiers were originally designed to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and reduce odors such as those caused by bacterial and mold, pollen, dust, pet dander and other pollutants.
More recently, many companies are testing their air purifiers ability to specifically eliminate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. While many air purification devices have been proven effective at inactivating SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses, it’s important to note no device or filtration system is 100% effective and therefore air purification should be considered as one part of a larger cleaning and disinfecting plan.