Tackling air quality key to reopening education

Action must be taken to reduce airborne risk of COVID-19 @phsGroup

Schools and colleges are being urged to take new measures to improve air quality in the fight against COVID-19.

Air-care experts at facilities services provider phs Group warn that as awareness grows about how COVID-19 spreads through the air, action needs to be taken to enable schools and colleges to reopen safely.

Working with Cambridge University Fluid Mechanics Professor Paul Linden, phs reports that evidence is exponentially growing about the risk of COVID-19 transmission through aerosols which are not contained by masks and linger in the air for up to hours at a time. And, worryingly, this risk is not being effectively addressed by the current ‘Hands, Face and Space’ infection control measures.

In the new phs Index report on air quality, Prof Linden explained:

“The longer you spend in an indoor environment, the greater the risk. If, for instance, you have one child infected with COVID-19 entering a classroom, the risk to the 30 other children in the class increases throughout the school day as more infected aerosols enter the environment and are spread around the room. These infected aerosols are entirely invisible to the human eye meaning you could be breathing them in without even realising it. Unfortunately, this all means that by only focusing on the ‘Hands, Face and Space’ message, we risk of leaving a gap in our defences – despite best efforts. Improving indoor air quality must be at the forefront if we truly want to create COVID-19-safe environments.”

In response to growing concerns about indoor air quality, phs has seen a significant rise in demand for its range of air purifiers which clean the air by physically removing impurities such as viruses, germs, allergens, dust, mould and VOCs. phs’ AERAMAX air purifiers remove 99.7% of airborne pollutants from the air, emitting cleaner and fresher air back into the indoor environment and can change the air within a room up to five times per hour.

While it’s too soon for research to guarantee air purifiers eliminate COVID-19, the evidence so far is promising; AERAMAX air purifiers are proven to be effective on viruses from flu and colds to the norovirus and also capture particles of TB, measles, mumps, whooping cough and chicken pox. Meanwhile, genetic similarities have been found by researchers between COVID-19 and the SARS virus, which AERAMAX is able to capture.

phs air-care expert Astley Shields said:

“The airborne risk of contamination urgently needs addressing to enable people to spend time in indoor settings more safely. Keeping schools and colleges closed is not sustainable; but neither is bringing together a classroom of students and teachers in a confined space in the midst of a pandemic. Comprehensive infection control is absolutely critical to the safe reopening of the education sector. Used in partnership with hygiene measures including regular hand washing, sanitisation, cleaning and social distancing, air cleaning creates a robust line of defence as we all battle against the risks of COVID-19 and work towards the safe reopening of the education sector.”

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