Philadelphia faculty district to put in new air purifiers regardless of considerations from air high quality specialist

The Philadelphia faculty district will transfer ahead with putting in air purifiers in practically each metropolis classroom despite criticism from an air high quality researcher that the purifiers are inadequate to curb the unfold of COVID-19 and that some might produce dangerous chemical compounds.

Officers met with Michael Waring, a professor of environmental engineering at Drexel College, on Monday as a “courtesy” to debate his considerations, mentioned Monica Lewis, a district spokesperson. However she mentioned his enter received’t change the district’s choice.

Chief Working Officer Reggie McNeil believes the units are secure, she mentioned, and the district consulted different air high quality specialists after Waring raised his considerations. Lewis didn’t identify the opposite air high quality specialists or say what they instructed the district.

The district purchased greater than 9,500 air purifiers for $4.5 million and plans to put in them by the tip of the month, Lewis mentioned. She mentioned the district used the identical purifiers in some lecture rooms through the spring’s hybrid studying.

Waring mentioned he’s “deeply upset” that the district is sticking with the merchandise.

The purifiers bought by the district use ActivePure technology, which neutralizes viruses by pulling oxygen and water molecules right into a “patented honeycomb matrix” and releasing “highly effective oxidizers” again into the room, in keeping with its web site. District officers mentioned eventually week’s press convention that the expertise was “initially developed for NASA” and will remove 99% of the virus “inside three minutes.”

Waring mentioned the purifiers solely generate one-tenth the quantity of airflow wanted to successfully neutralize airborne viral particles within the average-sized classroom, and the emission of oxidizers might be “dangerous to human well being” and irritate respiratory situations like bronchial asthma.

He mentioned the district ought to have rejected newer applied sciences that use oxidizers, and as an alternative opted for purifiers which have high-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The college district has squandered an enormous alternative to outfit each classroom with an appropriately sized HEPA air air purifier,” Waring mentioned. “This different would have had massive impacts on decreasing any potential COVID transmission in our faculties, in addition to offering indoor air high quality advantages lasting past the pandemic.”

The district didn’t reply to questions on how officers vetted the chosen air purifiers. In an announcement to Chalkbeat, Lewis mentioned the district “selected to pursue purifiers that didn’t merely use HEPA filter expertise however expanded past that to replicate expertise developed by NASA.”

ActivePure mentioned in an e-mail to Chalkbeat that its units are “secure and efficient.”

“Testing proved its effectiveness towards six clinically related pathogens, and its security together with no creation of ozone or byproducts,” the e-mail mentioned.

At a June 24 assembly, the Board of Training accredited a $6 million resolution for private protecting tools. A few of that was for the purifiers, mentioned board spokesperson Janice Hatfield. District officers introduced the air air purifier picks final week.

The district added to public concern and confusion final week by posting an outline on their web site of an incorrect air purifier mannequin. (Officers purchased three completely different fashions of air purifiers, however at present have a truth sheet for just one mannequin obtainable on the district web site.)

Final week, the district posted a fact sheet for the Vollara Air and Surface Pro, which, in keeping with its manual, can produce 40 occasions the FDA-required amount of ozone. Excessive ranges of ozone are unsafe for individuals, and might irritate respiratory situations, like bronchial asthma. A spokesperson for ActivePure mentioned that specific machine is just designed “to be used in unoccupied areas.”

The district corrected its mistake Monday, changing the earlier spec sheet with one for the Aerus Pure and Clean, which is marketed as “ozone free.” The 2 fashions look practically an identical. District officers mentioned the primary spec sheet was uploaded in error.

Waring mentioned his preliminary criticism was based mostly on the spec sheet for the wrong air purifier, however added that the 2 fashions perform equally. Whereas the dearth of ozone emission makes the latter machine barely safer, “all different considerations are the identical,” he mentioned.

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