School Installs Air Purifiers In Classrooms To Protect Pupils From Toxic Air
If you’re a parent with children at school it’s only natural to assume that they won’t be exposed to any harmful pollutants in their classroom, right?
Sadly, that’s not always necessarily the case.
Of course, we’re not talking about deliberate exposure here, but contaminated air from outdoors which has slipped in undetected.
And which may be causing unseen damage to both the short and long term health of our kids.
Most of us are well-versed in the problem of outdoor air pollution. It’s an issue that’s been around for many years now, and unfortunately still far from being eradicated.
What many of us aren’t aware of is INDOOR air pollutiom.
I’ll be the first to admit that until a few years ago contaminated indoor air wasn’t something that featured much on my radar. I guess I thought that the minute I stepped into my home or office I’d be cocooned in a little bubble of fresh, clean, healthy air.
Not for the first time, it turns out I was wrong!
Research has shown that the air that we’re breathing in every day inside our homes, schools and workplaces can actually be between 2-5 times more contaminated than that outdoors.
Factor in the estimate that many people are now spending up to 90% of their time each day indoors and that’s a lot of potentially harmful junk going into our lungs quite unwittingly.
The purpose of my articles has never been to scaremonger. Instead, my goal is to raise topics you might not have been aware of, present facts, and let you decide whether it’s something you maybe want to research yourself in a bit more depth.
It’s an undisputed fact that the issue of indoor air pollution is an area which has received a lot of attention in recent years from the World Health Organization (WHO).
It believes it to be a significant problem on a global scale, and attributable to a very large number of premature deaths every year.
Heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and acute and chronic respiratory diseases (including asthma) are some of the conditions that can be brought on or made worse by exposure to contaminated air particles.
People with underlying medical conditions may be more vulnerable, but even healthy individuals can experience negative health effects, such as fatigue and respiratory and skin irritations.
The problem is particularly acute in developing countries, where there is still a huge reliance on solid fuels such as wood, charcoal and coal to heat homes and cook with.
But even in more developed countries there are still many processes and products that can taint the air that we’re breathing in.
So, where exactly does the school in our headline feature in all of this?
Well, the school in question is the Notting Hill Prep School in London.
There are many fantastic sights to see in London and it’s a favourite destination for lots of people. But such popularity can bring with it problems such as congestion – an issue the U.K. Government is currently attempting to tackle with a variety of measures, such as a congestion charge levied on certain types of vehicles when they enter the centre of the city.
Caroline Armstrong, the school’s Bursar, explains the reasoning behind the installation of high tech air purifiers inside some of the school’s classrooms:
“We were concerned about the high level of pollution in London and wanted to do something to protect our pupils”.
And it appears she was right to be concerned.
According to Christian Lickfett, Managing Director of Commercial Air Filtration (the company which installed the air purifiers):
“Air pollution in classrooms around the world regularly exceed WHO air quality guidelines…”.
The teachers at Notting Hill Prep were especially concerned about toxic air caused by vehicle emissions. The school is located in a busy thoroughfare, with 7 different bus routes passing through.
In an attempt to improve the quality of the air inside the school, air purifiers from IQ Air were installed inside 3 classrooms. An Air Visual Air Quality Monitor was also installed to allow the school to track the quality of the air in real-time.
The results were staggering.
Levels of the harmful PM 2.5 soot particles associated with diesel engines were cut by 86% – IMMEDIATELY.
To explain a little more about ‘PM’ and why the results are so significant…
PM stands for particulate matter, and according to WHO affects more people than any other type of pollutant.
Particles which have a diameter of 10 microns or less are the most damaging, and have the ability to penetrate and lodge deep inside our lungs.
10 microns is less than the width of a single human hair and thus invisible to the naked eye, meaning that often we can be breathing these particles in with absolutely no knowledge of it as we can’t see them.
Long-term exposure to particles 2.5 microns in size is estimated to result in 29,000 premature deaths each year, and research indicates that children who are repeatedly exposed to them are more likely to develop asthma.
Personally, I wholeheartedly applaud the school for taking this step to improve the health of the children in their care, and suspect it’s only a matter of time before more follow suit.
Indeed, the Office of the Mayor of London has set up an Air Quality Fund which is currently auditing the air quality inside 50 schools in the capital’s most polluted areas. Results are due in March 2018 and should make for very interesting reading – please check back here after then for our analysis of the study.
So while it’s a more promising outlook now for the pupils of Notting Hill Prep School, the good news is that better indoor air quality is also within the reach of the rest of us too.
The use of air purifiers isn’t confined to large organizations or spaces by any means. Nowadays there’s a huge range of domestic air purifiers to suit all budgets and requirements.
And it’s not just vehicle emissions that they can help to eradicate.
All manner of unpleasant and potentially harmful polluted particles can be reduced or removed, such as smoke, mold spores, viruses, dust mites, pet dander and pollen.
As a result, many allergy and asthma sufferers online have reported their symptoms much improved by the use of an air purifier in their homes, with some even remarking they’ve disappeared completely.
Of course, if you don’t suffer from either of these conditions it might be a little harder to find the motivation to invest in one.
But the thing about air pollution is the unseen long-term impact it can have on us, and the emergence of health issues further down the line.
If you’ve never heard of air purifiers before, essentially they’re an electrical device which sucks in the air from inside a room.
It then processes this air through a filter, or series of different filters, which is where the polluted particles become trapped. It then blows back out clean air, and repeats this process up to several times an hour.
Air purifiers are super-simple to use – usually it’s just a case of taking them out of the box, plugging them in and you’re good to go.
Running costs are very modest, they are mostly very quiet when in use, and maintenance is generally extremely easy.
These advantages are echoed by Caroline Armstrong from the school who stated that “we decided to install the … units as they could be set up in an afternoon, are near silent, and required no alterations to the physical building”.
You can read more about how air purifiers work, and the key things to consider before buying one, in our Complete Buyers Guide.
To conclude, in my personal opinion it’s heartening to see a school taking proactive steps such as these.
Individually it’s extremely hard to for one person or one organization to positively influence a global problem such as air pollution – it will require a collective, committed effort by us all. And unfortunately it won’t change overnight.
But in the meantime there are steps that we CAN take on an individual basis that can help to mitigate against the effects of this pollution, such as improving the quality of our own indoor air by using an air purifier.
Each step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction nonetheless.