According to a new study, the risk of one child spreading Covid-19 to another in a classroom is reduced 12 times if an air purifier is present in a classroom, Belga News Agency reports.
The early results from the study, carried out by engineer Bert Blocken (KU Leuven/TU Eindhoven), virologist Marc Van Ranst (KU Leuven) and Leen Peeters (Th!Nk E), suggest that if a student with the virus in a class of 25 would infect the other 24 classmates without the purifier, the number would only be two with the purifying system.
The risk factor of contamination is based on an internationally recognised formula that determines the risk of infection. However, the team recognises that more data is needed to solidify the findings.
The research will run through the end of December with 100 schools participating and 1,000 classrooms being observed. Of the classrooms monitored, 500 will be equipped with an air purifier, 500 without. 47 schools participating are in Flanders, 3 in Wallonia and 50 in the Netherlands.
The air purifiers used in the study clean the air six times an hour and reduce the concentration of aerosols by 90-95%.
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If the preliminary results are solidified with the continuation of the study, Blocken’s team calculates it would cost €120 million to equip all Flemish classrooms with air purifiers.
"That's the same amount as the cost of three weeks of PCR tests for the government," Blocken said, pointing out how small the investment is compared to the impact it could have in the long term.