Safe and healthy air in classrooms benefits students in many ways—from better concentration to fewer absences. But today, we cannot discuss air quality without focusing on COVID-19. Coronavirus spreads by aerosols released when people breathe, cough, sneeze, or even laugh. While surface cleaning, face masks, and other safety measures are helpful, according to experts, protecting air quality is a critical safety consideration for any shared space—especially classrooms.
“Airborne transmission is happening,” said Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Boston Herald. “If you dilute or clean the air, you can further reduce those airborne particle concentrations.”
How Classroom Air Purifiers Protect Students & Teachers
Research shows that continued exposure to airborne virus particles, over time, equates to a higher risk of infection. We also know virus particles can float weightlessly across large indoor spaces, well beyond social distancing guidelines. By cleaning the complete air volume within a room, HEPA air purifiers make the air safer by capturing virus particles.
What are the most important features for a classroom air purifier?
- Effective Filtration – Is the purifier’s filter capable of capturing virus particles along with other particles like allergens and pollutants? Look for a True HEPA (H13) filter.
- Strong Air Movement – A powerful HEPA purifier for classrooms must clean the entire classroom’s air multiple times per hour. Experts recommend 3-6 ACH (air changes per hour).
- Low Noise Output – A classroom air purifier is of little value if its effective operation disturbs the class or harms concentration. Most reputable purifiers list decibel output at its high and low levels.
- High Energy Efficiency – To do its job, air purifiers for classrooms should run 24/7 or at least anytime the building is occupied. Look for HEPA air purifiers that are ENERGY STAR Certified.
Opening windows and having ample ventilation in a school is the best start, but if a building doesn’t have that, using tools such as a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter works well, according to experts like Harvard’s Joseph Allen. But as fall turns into winter, temperatures in many areas will dip too low to open windows. And throughout the year, doing so also invites in allergens.
When it comes to allergies and asthma, parents who keep the air clean at home often experience great frustration in resolving air quality issues in schools, especially schools in older buildings, in manufacturing towns, and inner cities. Asthma, which has doubled since the 1990s, is the leading cause of school absenteeism and hospital admittance for kids.
What common factors can cause allergy and asthma issues at school?
- Old buildings – They can emit particles from lead-based paints, crumbling masonry, areas that have not been cleaned in years, and hidden mold. Poor ventilation is often present, and sometimes water leaks and pest infestation are issues.
- Chemicals – Pesticides, toxic fumes from harsh chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fragrances, and cleaning solutions can be dangerous on their own, but the combination of chemicals can quickly send a child into an asthma attack.
- Particulates – Classrooms are loaded with particulate that irritates the tender airways of children, including old furniture and carpeting, soot, animal dander from classroom pets, paper dust, clothing fibers, and dead skin cells.
With our experience matching customers to the right air purifiers, we can help you select the right HEPA air purifier for classrooms. We discuss technology, size, placement, when to run it, and more; we are here to help.
Best Air Purifier for Classrooms
Austin Air air purifiers are also terrific for schools. They require little maintenance and also feature large, long-lasting filters. In particular, we recommend the Plus models that address the full range of toxins. A small classroom under 300 square feet will be well-served by the Healthmate Junior Plus. The Healthmate Plus best serves more expansive classrooms up to 1500 square feet.