NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) this week announced a program making free portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration purifiers and filters available to New Jersey K-12 schools.
These high-quality air purifiers and filters will offer layered protection from airborne irritants and respiratory illnesses to students, educators, and staff in New Jersey school settings.
Studies have shown that indoor exposure to air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels due to limited circulation indoors. Typical indoor air pollutants of concern in schools can include dust, mold, mites, and pollen, which can impact the health and well-being of individuals – particularly those with health concerns such as allergies and asthma.
“This initiative will improve indoor air quality within our schools. HEPA purifiers provide layered protection and reduce environmental pollutants of concern,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The goal is to keep our students healthy and in school where they can learn to their fullest potential.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that schools optimize ventilation and maintain improvements to indoor air quality. This program is funded by the CDC and is being implemented via a partnership between NJDOH, the New Jersey Department of Education and New Jersey Schools Development Authority. It builds upon funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) that supported K-12 schools to purchase air filtration items, such as HEPA units and filters.
“As a public health nurse and New Jersey Certified School Nurse, I have seen firsthand the impact of asthma on students in New Jersey,” said Jamie Weller, MSN, RN, NJ-CSN, Deputy Director, NJDOH’s Office of Local Public Health, who spearheaded the initiative. “Allergens, environmental irritants, and respiratory infections are all known to trigger asthma symptoms, and the HEPA purifiers will promote an environment in which students can remain healthy and ready to learn.”
Interested schools have until 3 p.m. on April 12 to complete a survey to make their requests. One survey should be submitted per school, not by school district. NJDOH will review all requests; receiving the requested number of HEPA purifiers is not guaranteed. In addition to the purifier, each school will receive up to three replacement HEPA sets per unit. Each purifier/three-filter set is designed to last for two full school years.
“Our goal is to provide students and staff in every school with a high-quality learning environment, and the HEPA purifiers can help us in this mission,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Education Commissioner. “This program, which is available to both public and nonpublic schools, can provide layered protection from respiratory illnesses and it can reduce airborne irritants such as dust, mold and pollen.”
Along with other preventative measures, maintaining adequate ventilation is an important strategy to help provide a healthy environment in schools. HEPA units, which have been shown to be effective in reducing pollutants and airborne particles, including respiratory illnesses like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, work by taking air from a given space and forcing it through layers of filters before returning purified air into the room. While the use of HEPA purifiers does not fully replace adequate ventilation, it can be used to support other ventilation methods.
The provided HEPA purifier model (Medify Air MA-112) can cover up to 1,050 sq. ft. of space. Placement should be prioritized in spaces frequented by students, especially those who may be medically-fragile, such as classrooms and nurses offices.
For questions or more information, contact COVID.email@example.com.