Air Filtration in Educational Facilities

Schools and universities present unique challenges to maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ). Gymnasiums, classrooms, auditoriums, and cafeterias must all meet different IAQ standards. Additionally, darkrooms and laboratory classrooms require air filtration at the molecular level to keep gaseous contaminants to a minimum.

A commercial air filter designed for one room in the building may not be suitable for filtering air in another part of the building. Industrial air filters are needed in some areas, such as woodworking, art rooms, and chemistry labs while a standard HVAC air filters may be fine for a typical classroom.

Importance of Clean Air in Schools

Studies have shown that half the schools in the United States experience problems stemming from poor IAQ. Adverse effects include, but are not limited to, respiratory issues and acute and chronic illnesses. Besides creating a more productive classroom environment for students and teachers, good IAQ in schools can:

• improve student attendance,
• reduce teacher absenteeism,
• decelerate deterioration of the school’s equipment,
• improve school energy efficiency,
• decrease potential for the school closing or having to relocate students and staff,
• improve community relations, and
• reduce liability issues.

Children are especially susceptible to the effects of poor indoor air quality. In proportion to their weights, children breathe, eat, and drink more than adults. Further, their lungs are still developing and are not able to filter contaminants as well as an adult’s lungs.

HVAC Systems in Educational Facilities

Most schools utilize commercial air filters designed for single stage air filtration. Many of these single-stage HVAC systems are dated, utilizing air filters with a lower Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV1) rating, based on old ANSI/ASHRAE standards. The National Air Filtration Association (NAFA2) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA3) are recommend using air filters with a MERV rating of 8 – 13.

For greatest efficiency, and to minimize the respirable concentration of contaminants, NAFA and the EPA recommend designing HVAC systems to contain more filter surface area. Using high efficiency v-style filters increases filter surface area and reduces pressure drop, resulting in increased efficiency and function. Another option is to increase the size and/or number of air filters in the airstream.

Advanced Filtration Concepts, Inc. (AFC) offers a variety of commercial/industrial HVAC air filters that range in efficiency from MERV 8 – 13 (and above) that will increase surface area with minimal pressure drop and maximum operational efficiency.

Special Classroom Air Filtration

Industrial and/or gas phase air filters are needed in certain classrooms to filter out what a standard HVAC commercial air filter cannot. Gas phase air filtration is recommended for odor and contamination control in the following classroom settings:

• Woodworking rooms
• Metalworking rooms
• Swimming pools
• Laboratories, and
• Locker rooms

Advanced Filtration Concepts carries a wide selection of gas phase and particulate industrial air filters for classrooms that require more than a standard commercial air filter.


For improved health and performance of both students and staff, careful consideration must be given to the design and filter selection of a school’s air filtration system. Current standards should be employed where systems are outdated, realizing that what works in one part of a school or university may not be suitable for all school settings. Advanced Filtration Concepts can evaluate your school’s indoor air quality and recommend appropriate air filtration solutions, including selection and maintenance of air filters. For more information about air filtration in schools and universities, contact Advanced Filtration Concepts, at 323-832-8316. Or, visit us on the web to learn more.

1 Understanding MERV
2 NAFA, Filtration for Schools
3 EPA, Healthy Schools and Indoor Air Quality

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