The Best Placement of Air Purifiers in Classrooms
What Are Air Cleaners?
Let’s start with the basics of an air purifier, specifically those used in the classroom. Most classroom air purifiers are mechanical, meaning they are equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. The device’s sole purpose is to take on airborne threats by filtering out dust, mold, viruses, bacteria, and bushfire smoke particulate matter. It is important to note that air cleaners alone won’t eradicate airborne disease transmission. It takes a combination of strategies, like vaccinations, physical distancing, hygiene, masks, and cleaning, to create a truly safe school environment.
Where to Place Air Purifiers in Classrooms: A School Guide
As a school administrator or teacher, you want to make sure that your students and staff are breathing clean air. But where exactly should you place air purifiers to achieve that goal?
The good news is most schools have been provided with enough air purifiers to cover all classrooms and other high-risk spaces. Adding the fact that modern air purifiers are portable, thereby have some flexibility in finding the right location. But there are a few key considerations you should consider:
- Classrooms with limited ventilation options – Prioritize windowless rooms, windows that can’t be opened, or windows/ doors on only one side.
- Consider rooms where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Places where higher levels of exertion are required. Perfect examples would be music, singing, sports, or drama classes, which should also be a priority.
- Air purifiers should be placed in rooms where vulnerable individuals with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems will spend their time.
- Focus on classrooms where a higher number of people will be spending extended periods of time.
- Lastly, assess the risk of a given room with Room Risk Rating and Management Strategies guidance.
The Perfect Placement: Maximizing Air Purifier Efficiency
An air purifier should always be within arm’s reach. To assist the school in delivering the best air quality in the classroom, you want to make sure the air purifiers are working as effectively as possible. Here’s how:
- If the device draws air in from the front or side, you can place the air purifier near a wall or in a corner.
- Leave at least 2 to 4 feet of space around the air purifier’s sides and back to avoid airflow disruption.
- You can place the device in an area of low air movement, usually on the opposite side of the room, from windows or doors. Air purifiers will also work in high air movement like doorways, walls, and close to windows that capture dust contaminants before they have a chance to spread throughout the classroom. It all depends on the operational fan speed.
- Do not let the air purifier impede the doors and windows opening.
- Only place the device indoors. Avoid direct sunlight exposure.
- Don’t put objects on top of the air purifier’s ventilation.
- Place your classroom air purifier as close to target the source of the problem. If an air quality monitoring tool is not available, just use your own two eyes and nose to catch any pollutants that begin manifesting themselves. If you notice student allergies acting up more in certain rooms, that’s a good indication that you should put your air purifier there.
- Keep the air purifier away from audio and visual media like the projector, monitor, or TV. They can be affected by video noise and electronic interference frequency.
- Never put an air purifier near a high-humidity area (above 50%) without a dehumidifier. Heavy air means more energy is needed to create airflow, and humid air can clog up filters, especially HEPA filters. Let’s not forget mold spores thrive in a damp environment, which is one of the leading causes of students’ absence from school.
- Follow the recommended room size provided by the manufacturer. For example, use one mid-range air cleaner with 200 sq. ft. suggested room size on equivalent classroom space. Add an additional air purifier for every extra 200 sq. ft.
To get the most out of your air purifiers:
- Set it to the highest fan speed during the day, as long as the noise is not affecting learning.
- Air purifiers are designed to operate all day and all night. It is safe to do so and will not set off school alarm systems. A running air purifier prevents airborne pollutants like dust and germs from building up overnight.
- If you can’t leave the air purifier on overnight, turn it on ideally 2 hours before students occupy the room. You can use the built-in timer to manage daily schedules.
- Avoid using air purifiers in combination with open windows. It stops purified air from escaping and dirty air from entering.
- Continue to promote air movement through available means, such as HVAC systems, fans, and air conditioners, even when the air purifier is in use.
- If available, activate the child lock function when students are in the room. Doing so prevents students from tampering with the setting.
- Always practice good hand hygiene after touching the device, especially on the air inlet and outlet.
- The key to unlocking the full potential of air-cleaning devices lies in the user manual. Refer to the manual for all information about the safe operation of air purifiers.
- Mobility is inevitable when it comes to air purifiers in schools. Smaller/ desktop air purifiers are designed to be portable, so school staff can effortlessly move them around the classroom as needed. Double-check the movement of the air purifiers to ensure they can be moved safely, easily, and confidently, no matter what comes your way. As with any physical activity, inherent occupational health and safety (OHS) risks must be managed by the school staff or teacher responsible for moving or lifting air purifiers.
Choosing the Right Air Purifier for Every Classroom
In the age of COVID-19, schools need to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their students and staff. One crucial aspect of this is to have proper air filtration systems in place.
But not all air purifiers are created equal to fit classrooms of all sizes. So, if you’re a school administrator considering purchasing air purifiers, here’s more detailed information on what you need to keep in mind:
- Only trust air purifiers that come equipped with HEPA filters. Anything less simply won’t cut it when it comes to removing airborne viral particles.
- It’s all about size. Make sure the air purifier you buy is appropriately sized for the room that needs air filtering.
- Consider the effectiveness of the device in removing particulates. Measurements like clean air delivery rate or suggested room size (sq. ft.) give you an idea of how much clean air the purifier can produce in a given space.
- Skip standalone UV and ionizer-based air purifiers and focus on filter-based HEPA air purifiers. Not only can UV aerosol disinfection be hazardous to your health when misused, but it also requires professional consultation to install it correctly.
- Complies with any Department of Health’s guidelines on reducing aerosol transmission in community and workplace settings.
We hope our simple guide will enlighten you on the importance of air purifier placement in the classroom. A simple decision will make all the difference between a clean, healthy learning environment for students or a contrasting breeding ground for germs. The power is in your hands.