A pilot program that seeks to measure the effect of HEPA filters in schools exposed to high levels of environmental contamination was recently inaugurated in a school in Coronel.
Seven schools in Coronel in Southern Chile, that participate in the sustainable schools program of the Ministry of the Environment, were selected to participate in a pilot study to evaluate the effect of air purifiers with HEPA filters in parameters such as student absenteeism and cognitive development.
Mayor and Ministerial Secretary of the Biobío Region attended inauguration
The project, which has the support of the Environment for Development initiative (NENRE EfD Chile) and the London School of Economics (LSE), in addition to the Biobío Regional Ministerial Secretariat for the Environment, was inaugurated at the Rosa Yáñez School, with the presence of the Ministerial Secretary of the Environment, Óscar Reicher, and Coronel’s Mayor, Boris Chamorro.
The team of experts is led by the Director of NENRE EfD-Chile, Marcela Jaime (Universidad de Concepción), César Salazar (Universidad del Bío-Bío), Nuria González (NENRE EfD Chile), and Cristóbal Ruiz-Tagle (London School of Economics).
Hopes to scale up
“We will evaluate the effect of the equipment that reduces the children’s exposure to pollution in the classroom through impact assessment methodologies,” said Marcela Jaime.
“We hope that the results of this pilot study will provide us with the necessary evidence to be able to scale this intervention to other educational establishments next year”.
Hope to improve students’ performance
Óscar Reicher also explained that the project seeks to assess whether the installation of air purifiers with HEPA filters in school classrooms exposed to high levels of particulate matter pollution has a positive effect on student performance. This measurement will be carried out to study student absenteeism, and the school and cognitive performance of students, both in their grades and in the results of the SIMCE test (quality of education test).
The Mayor of Coronel, Boris Chamorro Rebolledo, stated that, as a community, they are very happy to promote this pilot plan to purify the air in educational establishments.
“We know that this is an alliance that goes within the framework of Coronel ceasing to be a sacrifice zone, and becoming an environmental restoration zone,” he said.
He recalled that "the Institute of Public Health has indicated that the children of our municipality get sick three or five times more than the average of the Biobío Region and the country, so we have to face this harsh information with alternatives such as what we are doing today in this strategic alliance”.
In addition, air purifiers will also be installed in the classrooms of the third-year basic students of the Maule, Rosa Medel, Playas Negras, Ambrosio O'Higgins, Escuadrón, and Octavio Salinas schools, selected for having an environmental certificate, granted by the Ministry's Regional Environmental Certification Committee.