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May 2021

Decrease absenteeism at school by cleaning the air

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Workplace Hygiene, Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a continuous, invisible threat to classrooms and shared spaces in universities, schools, and nurseries around the world. Air purification from VIRUSKILLER™ can improve the air quality in your classroom, leading to lower rates of teacher and student absenteeism. 

Many universities and schools are located in urban, residential, or built-up areas: central and easy to access, but also plagued by air pollution that can far exceed safety standards and easily find its way indoors.

Consequently, these buildings — which may be older, close to busy roads, and without modern ventilation systems (or any ventilation systems) — can accumulate high concentrations of harmful pollutants indoors. These pollutants exacerbate allergies and act as a vector for viruses like COVID-19, colds and flu - increasing learner and teacher absenteeism, and resulting in missed learning opportunities.

In addition, these buildings are often large and require considerable resources to maintain. Other common pollutants include VOC-emitting construction and furnishing materials, minimal landscaping with poor drainage, heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, crowded classrooms, and VOC-emitting cleaning products. You can read more about the dangers of VOC's here

The risks associated with poor IAQ need to be taken even more seriously now that most of our learners have returned to school and university, and the WHO has updated its Coronavirus Q&As to say that: “The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 metre.”

VIRUSKILLER can prevent the 3 biggest risks caused by poor IAQ:

1. Airborne viruses and bacteria

When someone coughs, sneezes, sings or talks loudly, tiny droplets filled with viruses or bacteria get propelled into the air and are easily transmitted in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces such as lecture rooms, classrooms, and corridor. This means that if one person is sick, everyone is at risk. You can find out just how far a sneeze really travels in our previous blog post.

VIRUSKILLER™ airflow control ensures the protection of the breathing zone in a room, helping to minimize cross-infection between students, their peers, and their teachers. The high-grade filters act as the first line of defence and thereafter the reactor chamber efficiently decontaminates the air in real-time, killing 99.9999% of viruses – including Coronavirus* - with a single air pass.

2. Other illnesses, allergies and asthma

Schools in urban areas and close to major motorways experience high concentrations of traffic-related air pollution during peak hours, which makes its way indoors. According to IQ Air, South Africa ranks 38th out of 98 countries in the ranking for worst air quality rating.  Although our air quality is rated as "Moderate", South Africa's PM (particulate matter) concentration was more than 2 times the WHO exposure recommendation.

Studies have shown that this pollution, specifically diesel exhaust particles, can exacerbate allergies and induce the development of allergic immune responses.

Exposure to particulate matter in air pollution has also been associated with chronic bronchitis symptoms, airway inflammation, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease, as well as exacerbate asthma, which is generally a far more serious disease in children as they have smaller airways.

Each VIRUSKILLER model is equipped with a triple filtration system: a pre-filter, carbon filter, and high-grade HEPA filter to tackle particulate matter and VOCs, while the patented reactor chamber breaks down bioaerosols and organic matter that might otherwise escape filtration, ensuring that air is free from the pathogens that can cause allergies, hay fever, and asthma.

3. Absenteeism leading to reduced academic performance

Illness is a leading cause of absenteeism from school - with influenza being the biggest culprit.
A study carried out over two seasons found that flu accounted for 39% of illness episodes and 47% of school days missed. Absenteeism results in missed learning opportunities.

And it’s not just learner absenteeism we should worry about. Teacher absenteeism has massive implications for learners’ academic achievement, as well as for the school’s reputation and ability to maintain high standards.

VIRUSKILLER™ is a landmark development in our ongoing effort to improve IAQ and to minimise the the risks associated with poor IAQ in a wide range of environments. You can read more about the technology behind VIRUSKILLER™ in our previous blog post: Behind the design of the next air care revolution.  Its ability to kill 99.9999% of viruses with a single air pass, including Coronavirus*, is what really sets VIRUSKILLER™ apart. 

If you are serious about teacher and student wellbeing and performance, then consider introducing  VIRUSKILLER™ to your school, university or nursery today. Find out more by downloading the VIRUSKILLER™ product brochure to view the range, or talk to our team for more information. You can also find out more about Air Hygiene from our whitepaper.

VIRUSKILLER Product Brochure

Download Air Hygiene Whitepaper

* When independently tested against Coronavirus DF2 (a surrogate for Coronavirus), Adenovirus, Influenza and Polio, the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of viruses on a single air pass.

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at blog.initial.co.za, and our Ambius blog - https://www.ambius.co.za/blog. Life outside of Rentokil Initial mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned twelve, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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