Air ventilation systems that usher in fresh air from outdoors would be better than air purifiers at protecting students from air pollution, a Tainan-based expert said on Sunday, after Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in January proposed buying purifiers for local schools.
Lee Chun-chang (李俊璋), a professor of hygiene and risk management at National Cheng Kung University, said that using air purifiers in classrooms could increase carbon dioxide levels to five times the normal standard of 1,000 parts per million (ppm).
While air purifiers could reduce the density of airborne particulate matter (PM) at home, including concentrations of particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, they are not recommended for use in classrooms, he said.
Photo courtesy of National Cheng Kung University professor Lee Chun-chang
Classroom doors would have to be closed for air purifiers to be effective, but doing so in a classroom with 20 to 25 people would increase the carbon dioxide concentration to 5,000ppm, which could suppress the central nervous system and cause drowsiness, he said.
A classroom with open doors and windows would have a carbon dioxide concentration of 3,000 to 4,000ppm, he added.
Lee last year was part of an interuniversity research team that helped the K-12 Administration conduct an air pollution control strategy effectiveness assessment, Lee said.
The team in October found that air ventilation units installed at elementary schools in Kaohsiung and Yunlin County reduced PM2.5 levels by 70 percent and 48 percent respectively, and were 100 percent effective in bringing carbon dioxide levels back to normal, he said.
The ventilation units dilute airborne particulate matter by ushering in fresh air and could be set to activate automatically by sensor, he added.
After a promising trial, the Executive Yuan has expressed an interest in offering subsidies for schools south of the Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪) to install ventilation units, he said.
The estimated budget for the program is between NT$800 million and NT$900 million (US$25.9 million and US$29.1 million), he said.
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