Picture this: A little girl sits in a classroom in her neighborhood elementary school. She’s trying to focus on the teacher’s lesson, but her asthma is acting up again. She’s wheezing and finding it hard to breathe. Her chest tightens. At some point, it gets to be too much. She has to leave school early and head home.
It’s an imagined scenario, but one that is increasingly playing out in schools everywhere as the impacts of unhealthy indoor air quality become more and more evident – and real.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health; what’s more, the agency estimates that nearly half of all public schools have conditions that contribute to poor environmental quality. Students and staff in schools with poor indoor air quality – caused by pollutants like allergens, dust and mold – can experience coughing, irritated eyes, headaches, allergic reactions and, yes, even aggravated asthma. Beyond the physical symptoms, poor indoor air quality has also been linked to increased absenteeism and lower performance in both students and teachers.
But just as there’s been an increased understanding of the negative health impacts of poor indoor air quality, there’s also been a greater push to address the issue and make school IAQ clean, healthy and safe for everyone.
Current trends and insights with IAQ
Though recognition of the importance of good ventilation, clean air filtration and healthy IAQ had already been on the rise before 2020, COVID-19 helped spotlight the issue even more. As schools worked to make buildings safe for the return of students, many looked into improving IAQ through better ventilation and filtration, which have been shown to reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, when used in concert with other best practices. Interest in school IAQ is certain to remain high as COVID lingers and schools continue to create healthier environments for staff and students.
The increased attention on indoor air quality has also revealed a pressing need for smart data platforms that can help building management teams take the guesswork out of IAQ management. Many schools don’t have ways to monitor IAQ, nor are they able to determine when it’s time to make ventilation changes or update filters. Modern systems, complete with IAQ sensors and integrated technology, are becoming more readily available. They can be costly and complex, which can be challenging for schools.
But there is good news: The federal government has made significant funding available – an estimated $122 billion in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Relief Funds – for schools to make IAQ upgrades.
MERV 13 filters and the benefits for schools
One thing schools are sure to invest in when making IAQ improvements: MERV 13 filters for their HVAC systems. MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, rates a filter’s ability to capture particles. Though MERV 8 filters are common, those rated MERV 13 or higher can capture smaller particles and reduce the spread of viruses and allergens, thus improving IAQ and, in the long term, student and teacher health and productivity.
Technostat® is the go-to choice of many prominent filter manufacturers who make the MERV 13 panel filters used in U.S. schools.
Hollingsworth & Vose: The right choice for healthy IAQ
Global filtration leader Hollingsworth & Vose has been innovating in the world of filtration for decades. In particular, our Technostat® filter media, which is used in MERV 11-13 filters, is playing a key role in how schools are making improvements to their IAQ. In fact, Technostat® is the go-to choice of many prominent filter manufacturers who make the MERV 13 panel filters used in U.S. schools.
Why is that? Not only because Technostat® meets stringent industry ratings, but also because it is the leading electret media product in the market. It can capture small particles and offers high efficiency filtration with a low pressure drop, which means cleaner air with lower energy consumption in an HVAC system.
In addition to Technostat®, H&V offers a range of other filtration solutions that can help schools significantly improve their IAQ, creating better learning environments for students, teachers and staff at a time when the need is greater than ever. Contact us directly for more information.