BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Some school districts and schools are working to improve ventilation to keep kids save from spreading COVID in classrooms by purchasing small, portable indoor air purifiers.
“’It’s plug and play — pull it out of the box — plug it into the wall turn it on and it's filtering the air,” explained Lauren McMillan, president, Austin Air Systems.
The portable HEPA filtration units are manufactured at Austin Air Systems on Elk Street in downtown Buffalo.
McMillan says there has been a tremendous demand for their product during COVID.
“Our air purifiers will definitely reduce the viral load in the air and reduce the risk of children contracting disease,” McMillan described.
McMillan says that includes stopping the spread of Corona Virus in a school classroom.
“So aerosols are put into the air — somebody coughs — sneezes and within pretty quickly as the air circulates, the room it goes into the HEPA filter and is captured,” McMillan said.
Some Western New York school districts and schools are buying them up.
The Grand Island Central School District tells 7 Eyewitness News it purchased about 250 to 300 of the units so that they can have one in each of the classrooms.
The Grand Island Schools superintendent was not available for an interview friday, but the district welcomed me inside the middle school to check out the units in a classroom and art room.
@GrandIslandCSD purchased these portable HEPA filtration units for all the district’s classrooms to keep them COVID free. They are made right here in Buffalo by Austin Air Systems. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/NZXqPREL5C— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) August 13, 2021
Other local districts and schools that have also purchased the units include Amherst Central, Clarence, Orchard Park, Depew, Canisius High School, Niagara Charter, St. Mark School, Queen of Heaven and St. John Vianney.
Thursday the New York State Department of Education released a health and safety guide recommending improving ventilation inside school buildings to reduce the number of virus particles in the air by bringing in fresh air or getting an HVAC system.
But the Austin Air units are different.
McMillan says they're designed to purify the air and with both a HEPA filtration unit and carbon filters.
“Those two together, in combination, remove a whole host of particles — gases — chemicals — endotoxins, all kinds of things that really wreck havoc on the respiratory system,” McMillan responded.
The units cost $715 each and discounts are given for volume orders. The filters inside the units are good for five years.