Air purifiers and ultraviolet lights to be trialled in Bradford schools to combat Covid

Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Schools in Bradford are taking part in trials which involve having air purifiers and ultraviolet light installed indoors to combat Covid-19.

The trial aims to assess how air purifiers and ultraviolet light mitigate the transmission of coronavirus and other respiratory diseases in schools.

The study is being initially conducted in 30 schools in Bradford and is being backed with £1.8 million of funding from the DHSC.

Education Minister, Nick Gibb said Bradford the trial which hopes to evaluate how feasible it is to implement the technologies in primary schools.

The Department of Health and Social Care will then consider the final results from the study once available.

The project being run by a partnership involving the University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. All schools taking part will have the air quality inside the school buildings monitored. There are three "arms" to the study:

  • Ten schools will be part of a control group where there won't be any purification devices

  • Ten schools will have filtration devices fitted with HEPA air filters. A HEPA filter is a high efficiency particulate air filter capable of trapping bacteria and viruses

  • Ten will have Ultraviolet devices which kill bacteria and viruses. They will be fitted in the upper part of rooms.

Work has already started on fitting the devices inside schools, modelling where it is best to locate them. In each school where air purification technology is being used, 18 rooms will have devices fitted.

The research team do believe the filtration devices will be effective in reducing covid-19 infections - but the results could affect the way any broader introduction of filtration technology could be rolled out to schools.

It is hoped the first results might be available by Christmas. 

The use of purification devices may mitigate the problem caused by the inability to adequately ventilate some school buildings - or to open windows on cold winter days. If the technology is effective, it reduces the chance of school children being send home to isolate etc.  Bradford has been selected as the location for the study because of the close partnership between schools in the city, Bradford City Council, and academic and NHS researchers, most notably the Born in Bradford project.

UV lights - such as this robot in St Pancras station in London - are already being used in certain places to help protect people from Covid. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Some businesses already use UV light and air purifiers to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Transport for London installed more than 200 UV light sanitising devices on escalator handrails across the London Underground in October after a successful six week trial.

Several clubs and gig venues also installed the devices ahead of reopening their doors on July 19.