New devices will further enhance air quality in schools

The Pattonville Board of Education on March 9 approved the purchase of special devices that will add another layer of safety in air quality in Pattonville schools. In addition to the advanced filtering systems already in place, the district will install needlepoint bipolar ionization systems at each school to further enhance air purification in each building. 

Testing has shown that needlepoint bipolar ionization systems reduce airborne amounts of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, by more than 99%, and significantly reduces the spread of other viruses like the flu or common cold. A needlepoint bipolar ionization system was piloted at Bridgeway Elementary School before being expanded districtwide.

Over the last five years, Pattonville has spent nearly $25 million updating heating and cooling systems districtwide. The updates were done based on the standards established by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), which are now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These upgraded systems use the newest technologies and are integrated with a building control system that monitors their performance in real time. This ensures fresh outside fresh air is brought in continually throughout the day, provides greater filtration within the building and makes certain that components such as fans and filtering systems are working correctly. System operation and ventilation are continually monitored (24/7) by an advanced control system and updated based on CDC and ASHRAE guidance.

The needlepoint bipolar ionization systems will be integrated into each of Pattonville’s school HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems. The only exception are some classrooms at Holman Middle School, which have new, electrostatic dynamic air filtration systems, making a needlepoint system redundant. 

The Pattonville board on March 9 approved paying $332,277.54 to purchase Global Plasma Solutions IAQ Pathogen Abatement and Remediation Systems from Thermal Mechanics for its newest purchase of the systems. This purchase is possible due to federal COVID-19 relief funds Pattonville is receiving. The systems will be installed as soon as possible, with a goal of completion by early April.

Needlepoint bi-polar ionization systems are incorporated into HVAC or chiller systems, using specialized tubes that take oxygen molecules from the air and convert them into charged atoms that are sent back out to cluster around microparticles by surrounding and deactivating harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens and viruses. The charged atoms also attach to expelled breath droplets and dust particles that can transport viruses, enlarging them so they are more easily caught in filters. This process actually increases the efficiency of the air filter. It is an active process that provides continuous disinfection. Basically, the system is constantly cleaning the air because it is constantly sending ions into the building to neutralize harmful substances in the air.

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