About the air purifier study
We wish to investigate whether air purifiers can help protect students and teachers from airborne diseases. Initially, we will conduct a pilot study at selected schools. On this page, you will find information about the pilot study.
Background and purpose of the study
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several infection control measures were implemented, including school closures, which may have had consequences for the learning and mental health of schoolchildren. This indicates that we need to explore alternative methods for managing the spread of infection in schools. The use of air purifiers with HEPA filters has been suggested to reduce airborne infections, but we do not know enough about their effectiveness in school environments. Therefore, we are planning a study to investigate the extent to which air purifiers can help reduce the spread of infection in classrooms. First, we will conduct this pilot study to see how feasible and acceptable such a study is in Norwegian classrooms.
The pilot study is conducted by the Centre for Epidemic Intervention Research (CEIR) at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), in collaboration with SINTEF and selected schools in Drammen and Lier.
The pilot study consists of two different parts. Selected schools in Drammen participate in part 1, while one school in Lier participates in part 2. We plan to equip the classrooms participating with air purifiers and air quality sensors. At the schools participating in part 1 of the study, these units will mostly be active throughout all teaching hours over a period of 6 weeks. At the school in part 2, we will alternate between turning the air purifiers off and on in various classrooms. The pilot study will not entail changes to the existing timetable.
We will collect data on air quality from the classrooms. In addition, the project group wishes to involve both students (only in part 1) and teachers in the data collection. In part 1, the project team will also collect aggregated absence data from the school's absence records.
Advantages and disadvantages of air purifiers
Air purifiers may be able to clean the air in the classroom of things like pollen, mold, and even viruses. This could potentially reduce problems with asthma and allergic reactions. There are also some studies suggesting that cleaner air can help children perform better on tests and feel better in general. Air purifiers might reduce the risk of being infected by viruses, but we are not sure, which is one reason why we want to do this study.
Air purifiers can create some noise, and improper placement can lead to draft. We will try to place air purifiers so that they do not create draft and will choose a fan level in consultation with teachers that is as quiet as possible. It will be important for us to find out in this pilot study whether anyone is nevertheless bothered by the air purifiers.
Cathinka Halle Julin, Project investigator