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Air purifiers key in fighting air pollution and disease in SA schools?

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Could installing air purifiers in South African classrooms play a key role in reducing the spread of air pollution and disease in schools, and creating safer, healthier spaces with happier teachers and learners? A growing body of evidence would certainly suggest so – and Germany, the United Kingdom, the US and Australia have already started major programmes to install portable air purifiers in schools as they look to stop the spread of the Covid-19  virus.

A 2020 study by the Goethe University Frankfurt shows that portable air purifiers dramatically reduce the viral load in classrooms. And experts – including the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention – say that along with vaccination and masks, good ventilation is one of the most critical factors in reducing Covid infection in schools.

However, good room ventilation alone is not enough when children are talking loudly, singing or walking around, as the respiratory aerosol that is created hangs in the air for extended periods.

Studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rank indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health, and suggest that good indoor air quality can help schools reach their primary goal of educating children by reducing absenteeism and improving teacher performance.

All 56,000 New York City public school classrooms have been equipped with two air purifiers, while the German government invested £452m in October 2020 to improve ventilation systems in public buildings and schools, including air purifiers. In Bradford in the UK, 30 primary schools are trialling the use of air purifiers to reduce the spread of Covid-19, while several states in Australia are installing air purifiers in schools as well.

But the benefits of air purifiers in classrooms go well beyond supporting Covid-19 safety protocols. Every year, more than 20 million South Africans suffer from allergic respiratory diseases, including coughing, sinus inflammation, watery eyes and asthma triggered by pollen and dust mites.

Trevor Brewer, director of air treatment specialist Solenco, says air purifiers typically work by using HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which trap most airborne viruses and unwanted particles such as dust, pollen, bacteria, and hair from the air, while allowing clean air to be pushed back out into the environment.  

“Poor indoor air quality creates a range of impacts on our health and wellbeing, from headaches and sinus congestion to coughing, sneezing, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin,” said Brewer. 

“An air purifier with a quality HEPA filter will remove particles as small as 0.3 microns, which are too small to see with the naked eye, while the ultra-violet (UVC) light is designed to alter the DNA of microorganisms and inactivate or destroy them. An activated carbon filter is especially effective in removing harmful SO2 emissions, pesticides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that South Africans are exposed to daily,” said Brewer.

Solenco air purifiers, like the newly upgraded CF8500 Air Purifier, use a multi filtration system including prefilter, medical grade H13 HEPA filters, activated carbon filters and UVC light combined with a photocatalyst. This has seen Solenco awarded a certificate of approval from the Allergy Foundation of South Africa.

The CF8500 works in spaces of up to 40m2, and its five-stage purification system traps up to 99.97% of particles, while killing bacteria and viruses and reducing VOCs, toxic fumes and odours. It is suitable for use in a range of settings, including schools, homes, doctor’s rooms, hospital rooms, hair and nail salons, beauty salons and coffee shops.

About Solenco 

Solenco is your trusted leader in air treatment and lifestyle products that help you improve your overall health and provide more comfort to your space (Solenco stands for Solutions for Environmental Comfort).

With more than a decade of sourcing and distribution experience, Solenco products are stocked by South Africa’s largest retailers such as @Home, Hirsch’s, Makro, Takealot; Clicks, Builders Warehouse and YuppieChef. 

Solenco is currently the largest importer of dehumidifiers in the domestic space and imports leading global products such as Meaco and Hobot. A product that is proudly endorsed and supplied by Solenco, is considered the gold standard.A number of Solenco’s products have been given the seal of approval by the Allergy Foundation of South Africa (AFSA). Solenco has also been recognised as the Best-Selling brand on Clicks Online.

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