Air Filters in London’s Schools

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 24th May 2022.

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Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Data that I obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request showed that the Government has only provided 141 London schools with air filters as part of their national scheme. Do you agree that this scheme should now be expanded and relaunched to ensure more London schools can tackle poor air quality and the transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in the classroom?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a scheme where, for a limited time, certain educational settings could apply for DfE-funded air cleaning units to address COVID-19 by improving ventilation where simple measures such as opening doors and windows were not possible.  Last year the Government also trialled air cleaning technologies to assess their efficacy in reducing COVID transmission. I await the results of this research before recommending next steps regarding COVID safety.

Meanwhile, action on air quality in London’s schools is vital. I published a study in 2019 which found that air filtration systems (AFS) can be effective in certain circumstances in reducing PM2.5 and NO2. However, the Government must urgently address the lack of UK design standards, minimum performance requirements or testing criteria for AFS. This will allow schools to make informed choices about the suitability of these devices for their settings.