With students returning to school across the country, the updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (in the light of the more contagious Delta Variant) and the varying instructions on children wearing masks, one company has taken a serious look at what is necessary when it comes to protecting drivers and students aboard school buses.
When considering how to keep drivers and children safe from airborne coronavirus, it is first key to understand how filtration and air flow both play a critical part in providing the right solution.
Masks have an effectiveness of anything between 0% and 80%, depending on the material they are made from and whether they are being worn correctly. Opening windows is impractical in bad weather and can add dangerous air pollution to the mix. The only way to fully protect drivers and students is to filter the air on board and flood the bus interior with a non-stop supply of clean air.
“The answer is to be able to quickly and effectively filter the air while at the same time flooding the bus cabin with clean air. In a bus with up to 72 children each breathing 8 liters of air per minute, this means at least 576 liters of clean air per minute are required to reduce the risk of exposure should someone on board be infected,” explained Stuart Walker, head of product for AirLabs.
Developed by clean air technology specialists, it is the only air purifier on the market that has been independently tested and verified to remove more than 99% of airborne coronavirus and air pollution, including toxic particles and gases, while also delivering more than 7,600 litres of clean air per minute when placed in a school bus configuration.
Equally importantly, the AirBubbl ‘does no harm,’ which Walker believes is a key consideration.
“When considering solutions, it is critical to choose a product that does not produce any harmful bi-products such as ozone and to think about the long term protection it can provide,” he said.
“By choosing a solution that will protect against not only airborne coronavirus but also against particle and gas pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, soot and smoke from wildfires, allergens and ozone – all of which are detrimental to physical and mental health – you are investing in the long term health and wellness of your drivers and students,” Walker continued.
Triple Action Technology
“When we looked at how to best solve the problem of airborne coronavirus and pollution, we took into account several critical considerations,” Walker said.
- How do we filter and deliver clean air to those onboard?
- What rate of clean air delivery is necessary?
- What independent testing and verification do we need?
- Can we develop everything that is necessary and still make it cost effective?
- Can we create a clean and safe onboard environment without creating any harmful byproducts?
We started answering these questions with our Triple Action Technology approach, ‘TAcT’.
Part one of our TAcT approach is our patented air extraction and delivery technology. This ensures that the air is extracted and reintroduced to the surrounding space at a rate of 38,000 cubic litres per hour. This exceptional Clean Air Delivery Rate means that the personal breathing space around a driver and students is rapidly cleaned and then kept clean for the duration of the ride to school.
Parts two and three of TAcT are our unique dual filter technology. Here we have developed an active carbon filter to remove ozone (O3) as well as other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). This is coupled with a powerful HEPA filter to remove airborne pathogens and particulate pollutants such as PM2.5, PM10, along with dust, dander, pollen and other allergens. Most importantly, our HEPA filter is tested with and proven to remove more than 99% of the airborne human coronavirus.
Cost is always a concern in the public space, as is the longevity of technology solutions and the effort necessary to maintain them. To this end, our technology maintains a low total cost of ownership as it requires no maintenance other than scheduled filter replacements.
Tested to the Limits, Proven to Protect
The final criteria we set ourselves is to be effective, while doing no harm to the users or the environment.
To achieve this, we have been through rigorous independent testing with the Institut Pasteur to certify that our filter removes more than 99% of the live airborne human coronavirus. We have also tested with IUTA to certify that our filter removes more than 99% of particle and gas pollutants including PM2.5 PM10 and ozone (O3) as well as pollutants such as dust, dander, pollen and other allergens.
Additionally, we crash tested with Thatcham Research to assure safety in extreme driving conditions. We have also registered our manufacturing facility with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Establishment 100544-CHN-1, and are CARB certified for sale in California.
Safeguarding the Health of Everyone Onboard
Illness and pandemic-related anxiety means that operators nationwide are facing low bus driver numbers. For operators and school districts, having their drivers work in a clean air environment brings added proven benefits: on average a 5% reduction in accidents, a 3.2% reduction in sick days and an 8% increase in employee performance.
All of these can have a huge impact in running an efficient service with minimized costs and overheads.
Funding For Clean Air Technology
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, which are part of the federal COVID-19 stimulus packages, specifically focus on K-12 education. The Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act allots funding for bus and motorcoach operators. Specific funds in the American Rescue Plan are also allotted for education and learning loss. Together, these programs offer a total of $189.5 billion for student education and support.
The federal government provides funding packages which are awarded to State Education Agency (SEAs), then to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and finally to the school districts. At each step, a plan must be provided on how the funding will be used.
Focusing on student and driver health in the classroom and on the school bus re-establishes the necessary level of trust between students, parents, drivers, school administrations and the wider community, confirming that not only is the race on to protect drivers and students from the airborne coronavirus and pollution, but also that the finish line is in sight.