Associate Professor Donna Green and I had a chance to speak with Cassie McCullagh on ABC Radio Sydney’s Focus about high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in schools, based on our earlier piece at The Conversation.
Interestingly, I noted that a US academic has also written for The Conversation US about HEPA filters in schools, and sums up some of the equity considerations and limitations quite well:
In-room HEPA filtration is a long-term investment that supplements existing ventilation systems. And though COVID-19 was the impetus for the installation of many HEPA filters, they are effective for far more than just reducing exposures to airborne viruses. Well-maintained and properly functioning filtration systems also reduce exposure to wildfire ash that can penetrate buildings, as well as allergens and other unwanted particles like automobile exhaust, tire detritus and construction dust.
But even the best indoor HEPA filtration cannot guarantee protection from airborne respiratory threats in schools. HEPA filters are effective only as part of an integrated approach. Ultimately, masks, distancing and reducing the number of students packed into tight spaces will determine how well students are protected from COVID-19.COVID-19 has spurred investments in air filtration for K-12 schools – but these technologies aren’t an instant fix