Mar 14, 2023 9.8 Billion Reasons to Adopt UV-C Germicidal Technology
9.8 Billion Reasons to Adopt UV-C Germicidal Technology
America’s schools have learned a simple yet profound equation: better air quality = better student and teacher health and performance.
Nearly two years after Congress approved $122 billion in COVID relief aid for elementary and secondary education through the American Rescue Plan, school districts and charter organizations have focused their spending on three priorities: academic recovery, staffing, and school facilities and operations, a FutureEd analysis shows.
The analysis found that almost a quarter of federal ESSER III funding (the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) ― nearly $15 billion ― has been earmarked for improving school facilities and operations. By far the largest priority in this category is upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, with more than $5.7 billion designated for these HVAC projects, or about 38% of facilities and operations spending. If trends continue, the total for this category could reach $9.8 billion.
According to the analysis, schools have set aside an additional $2.8 billion for repairs that prevent illness, including lead abatement, removing mold and mildew, or replacing leaking roofs. Because inadequate school ventilation has been linked to student sickness and impaired academic performance, these funds can also potentially be used for HVAC upgrades and enhancements.
FutureEd’s study, the first to detail the way relief money is flowing through local education agencies (LEAs), examined spending plans from 5,004 school districts and charter organizations educating 74% of the nation’s public school students. The plans, compiled by the data services firm Burbio, account for $83 billion in ESSER III funds, but local education authorities have specified a dollar figure for only about $64.2 billion of that sum.
IMPROVING STUDENT AND STAFF HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE
The unprecedented availability of such massive funding has given school districts nationwide an excellent opportunity to upgrade their HVAC systems and physical plants to transform the quality of the air students, teachers and administrators breathe.
According to a recent study from the LANCET COVID-19 Commission, “Designing Infectious Disease Resilience into School Buildings Through Improvements to Ventilation and Air,” some remarkable student and teacher health and performance outcomes can result from better ventilation and improved indoor air quality.
Their research found that ventilation and air cleaning improvements are likely to lead to improved academic performance particularly in math and science, fewer missed school days for students, higher scores on cognitive function tests, and many benefits for teachers including decreased respiratory symptoms, increased teacher retention and improved morale.
Other studies have linked improved ventilation to better classroom attendance and student health.
CLEARING THE AIR ABOUT IAQ TECHNOLOGIES
An April 2021 study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “School Ventilation: A Vital Tool to Reduce COVID-19 Spread,” advised school systems against using unproven indoor air quality (IAQ) improvement technologies such as ozone generators, ionization, plasma or chemical foggers and sprays because their effect on children has not been tested and may be detrimental to their health.
Instead, as part of six recommended actions for school administrators, study authors advocated the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation among several proven technologies for improving indoor air quality. The study concluded that better ventilation could give children and school staff higher air quality for decades to come, providing a healthier environment for non-pandemic times and potentially reducing risks in future infectious disease outbreaks.
UV-C: THE HEALTHY, AFFORDABLE SOLUTION
Ultraviolet light or UV-C is a decades-old, powerful, scientifically validated technology that neutralizes airborne pathogens while satisfying multiple concerns about air disinfection.
Both upper-room UV-C fixtures and in-duct systems use germicidal (253.7nm) energy to disinfect the air. The ultraviolet light inactivates harmful microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and mold. Plus, unlike other technologies, UV-C energy produces no hazardous chemicals, VOCs, ozone or other dangerous byproducts.
New high efficiency filters are often recommended to improve indoor air quality, but some older HVAC systems cannot handle the air pressure resistance from these filters without compromising performance. Fortunately, UV‑C can be combined with your existing filtration to create a layering of technologies that can capture and destroy pathogens with no reduction of airflow or ventilation levels. It’s also one of the most economical infection mitigation strategies, and it can cut your HVAC energy use by up to 20%.
To learn more, visit https://www.future-ed.org/financial-trends-in-local-schools-covid-aid-spending/
Glossary of Acronyms
- CARES– The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
- ESSER– Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief
- CRSSA- Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act
- GEER– Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
- HEERF– Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
- EANS- Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (ARP 2021)
- IHE– Institution of Higher Education
- SEA– State Educational Agencies
- LEA– Local Educational Agencies