Half of Tartu's schools and nurseries have natural ventilation, which makes it difficult to clean the air from the coronavirus. The city government is now testing air purifiers as a solution.
Tartu Deputy Mayor Priit Humal said that the installation of ventilation systems is reasonable during the reconstruction of school buildings. As long as almost 30 educational institutions are waiting for their turn, a faster solution to the virus is needed. So far, the Tartu City Government has tested a room-based ventilation system.
"A so-to-say room-based ventilation unit's installation cost was probably €4,000. The unit itself didn't cost us anything. In that sense, these room-based solutions are probably not very promising, air purifiers are more fitting," Humal said.
Air purifiers are more than ten times cheaper. One device cost the city government €325. So far, the cleaners are being tested at Karlova School and Tõrukes Kindergarten. The University of Tartu is also testing various air purifiers.
Heikki Junninen, head of the Environmental Physics Laboratory, explains the purpose of the experiment: "We are also developing a cleaning device here to test and compare with the models available in the store. We check that the official values stated by the cleaner manufacturers are correct. Do our results confirm this? There may be a situation where there is a very good filter and very good parameters, but technically the thing is poorly assembled and leaks - does not clean as well as the filter certificate indicates."
In addition, it will be investigated which equipment and with which settings the air is cleaned the fastest, how the filters cope and don't produce too many hazardous by-products such as ozone.
Junninen said that the first test results should be available in a few weeks.
Humal is also waiting for the results: "The next step could be to expand the current program of one kindergarten and one school. In the coming weeks, we will decide with the city government how we will proceed with the air purifiers."
Heidi Kiuru, the principal of the Karlova school, said that the air purifiers work well, but so far the class is still ventilated during the breaks. As the windows are open during the breaks, the classes tend to be cold in the winter after the break, he noted.
As the purifiers do not add oxygen, air purifiers are suitable as a temporary solution for virus control, but only a proper ventilation system will help against a clogged classroom.
Editor: Roberta Vaino