Did you know that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is in the top five environmental threats to our nation’s health? Because children are among the most sensitive to poor air quality, there must be adequate air filtration for schools. Using the proper air filters and frequently changing them makes it possible to trap many airborne pollutants. Many K-12 schools, and colleges have diversified campuses that include student classrooms, kitchens, cafeterias, labs, photography darkrooms, auditoriums, locker rooms, and gymnasiums with different requirements for their HVAC systems.
Improvements in Air Filtration for Schools
Filti provides high-quality commercial air filters to meet the demands of filtration for schools, commercial buildings, residential homes and more. Our filters help to ensure healthy indoor air quality for students, staff, and families. Improvements in air filtration for schools can:
- Improve student and faculty performance
- Boost productivity for students and staff
- Reduce the likelihood for long-term health problems
- Reduce absenteeism for students and faculty
- Reduce deterioration of the school campus and its facilities
Indoor Air Quality Issues
The facts are unsettling: 53 million schoolchildren and 6 million teachers, administrators, and others travel through 120,000 school buildings every day, with at least half of these schools having indoor air quality issues.
Our children are the most valuable resource of any country. But, unfortunately, too many of them are in danger from exposure due to less-than-ideal, healthy learning environments.
U.S. Department of Energy
“Our nation’s K-12 schools are challenged to accommodate a growing student population and rising community expectations with aging facilities, tight operational budgets, and ever-increasing energy costs,” according to the Department of Energy. Every year, taxpayers spend $6 billion on electricity for these institutions, around 25% more than is necessary. That $1.5 billion could instead go towards recruiting 30,000 new teachers or buying 40 million new textbooks each year.
Air Quality Statistics
According to the American Lung Association, 6.3 million school-aged children miss about 10 million days owing to asthma, making asthma the top cause of chronic disease absenteeism in the United States. Additionally, the CDC estimates that nearly 14 million school days are lost each year due to asthma, aggravated by schools’ poor indoor air quality.
“…every kid and school personnel should have the right to an ecologically safe and healthy school that is clean and in excellent repair,” according to the American Public Health Association.
While we know that excellent engineering practice and appropriate Maintenance, Operation, and Repair (MOR) may alleviate many of the school indoor air quality problems, cleaner air given by increasing levels of air filtration offers the answer upon which many of the IAQ problems grow.
Particulate Matter in the Air
The bio-burden is even higher because schools have a significantly higher population density than a typical commercial office building. The combination of viable and non-viable particulates brought in on people’s clothing and through open doors and windows, combined with activity levels of young people, which increases the shedding of skin cells and other particulates, makes school air some of the dirtiest in any environment.
Many schools use low-efficiency (MERV 1-4) filters that remove just a small amount of particulate matter. Because of the low filtering capabilities of these filters, the air can have a musty odor. Individuals at school for long periods become accustomed to the odor and are unaware of the pollution. In the absence of adequate air filtration to remove harmful particles from the air, your lungs serve as the filter.
Schools In Session
The school year has begun, and sadly, the pandemic is still a significant concern. While some education systems and institutions are holding remote classes, others are open to students and school staff. Because of COVID-19 and other seasonal viruses, school operators and engineers must have a plan in place to make their campuses safer during the pandemic.
COVID-19 primarily spreads by contact of respiratory droplets from sneezing, coughing, and talking. While practicing safe cleaning habits such as wiping down all surfaces, hand washing, social distancing, and wearing facemasks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, they will not eliminate the smaller droplets that can float and persist in the air. Although it may not be possible to eliminate the virus, decreasing the spread and eliminating harmful particles in the air by simply replacing the campus’ air filters when appropriate is a step in the right direction. Using high-efficiency air filtration for schools, maintaining ventilation systems efficiently, and enhancing external air ventilation can help minimize disease transmission and enhance indoor air quality (IAQ).
Improving Air Filtration for Schools
Many K-12 school systems and colleges utilize conventional filters with a MERV 8 rating for their HVAC systems. By replacing them with high-efficiency MERV 13 filters, such as Filti’s MERV 13 filter, they can protect students, and staff better. According to ASHRAE, air filters should be upgraded to the “…highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) applicable for the HVAC systems” (local, central, and DOAS).
If the HVAC system can accommodate the drop in pressure, MERV 13 is the suggested minimum. Filters with a MERV 13 rating can capture air particulates as small as 0.3 microns and provide excellent performance of sub-micron particle removal, thus decreasing COVID-19 transmission.
Benefits of The Filti 7500 MERV 13 Filters
- Improved Air Quality – The Filti 7500 filter is highly efficient, with MERV 13 rating, and filters out airborne particulate matter that the average disposable filter does not. This is accomplished through the use of state-of-the-art nanofiber technology. Filtration on steroids. Inhale clean and healthy air.
- Nanofiber Technology – Nanofiber captures ultrafine pollutants, and scrim acts as an additional reinforcement. An engineered melt-blown design with a 3-layer composition increases dust collection capacity.
- 100% Made in the USA – Manufactured 100% in the United States.
Methods for Improving Ventilation
The suggestions listed below are current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines).
The CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists many strategies for improving ventilation in schools including:
Opening up to Fresh Air from outside
- Open windows anywhere it is safe to do so, including schools, school buses, and other modes of public transit. When pollution levels are low, and it is safe, opening doors can help increase ventilation. In addition, using child-safe fans in line with CDC recommendations amplifies the effect of open windows and doors.
- When it is safe and practical, have lessons, activities, and meals outside.
Optimize HVAC Settings
- HVAC systems should be serviced or upgraded following industry standards.
- Set systems to bring in as much external air as the system can safely handle, including for two hours before and after occupancy.
- Consult an HVAC specialist before reducing or eliminating air recirculation.
- Turn off the demand-controlled ventilation controls and set fans to on instead of auto in thermostat-controlled classrooms or buildings, which will run the fan constantly even when heating or air conditioning is not needed.
- Use a planned inspection and maintenance program for HVAC systems to allow equipment repair, modification, or replacement.
- Consider changing HVAC system filters more frequently than advised by standard maintenance standards after consulting with HVAC specialists and health regulators.
- Ensure that exhaust fans in toilets and kitchens are operational and used during occupancy and for two hours after that to remove particulates from the air. To optimum airflow, keep all fans and filters clean.
- Upgrade HVAC filters to MERV-13, or the highest MERV rating that a building’s ventilation system can support, to increase air filtering as much as feasible without severely lowering airflow.
- Ensure that HVAC filters are the correct size, installed, and updated at least as regularly as recommended by the manufacturer.
A Brighter and Healthier Future
When it comes to air filtration for schools, homes, or businesses, it’s important to remember that the better the quality of filter you use, the better your air quality. Good air quality is a vital element for the health and well being of everyone. At Filti, our mission is to provide clean air filtration products for a safer indoor environment. For more information on our filters or to place your order, contact us!