Inspired by California’s recently enacted AB-841 legislation, which redirects funds to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) upgrades in schools and wildfire impacted communities and seeking to address Sacramento’s high levels of smog and air pollution, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), along with 31 colleagues, sent a letter to the Biden Administration to support the creation of a program for HVAC system maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades in their nation’s schools.

As the country continues to suffer from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, wildfires become more severe due to the climate crisis, and school districts re-open nationwide it will be crucial to establish dedicated funds to address new and existing issues with school HVAC units. Making these changes is vital to improving indoor air quality to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and the risk of toxic air pollution. Further, as a part of their transition to sustainable infrastructure, it will be key to ensure that their schools are equipped with the latest, energy-efficient ventilation technologies.

Matsui has urged for this program to prioritize environmental justice communities, communities of colour, and low-wealth communities who have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and disproportionately suffer from air pollution.

While air quality has always been a top priority to keep students and personnel healthy, the COVID-19 pandemic has made bettering indoor air quality a top priority for the year 2021.

With this backdrop, Kronos Advanced Technologies, Inc., has launched an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) research study to assess the IAQ conditions in schools. The study aims to collect and develop Kronos National School Air Quality Data – gathered by its Canario Wearable monitors.

Canario wearable monitors

Canario monitors will upload data to the cloud in real-time. They will allow school principals and districts to monitor air quality in each classroom and track its effect on students and school personnel.  Schools using the Kronos smart filter-less air purifiers report consistent, very low levels in particulate contamination concentrations and improved air quality at far below the EPA standards. Recent testing shows that the Kronos air purifiers reduce 99.9% of viruses, molds and funguses, and allergens from the air.

The personal smart sensor

Kronos introduced Canario wearable sensors recently to the U.S. markets: the first of its kind personal smart sensor, optimized for detection of micro bio-aerosols and air quality. Bio-aerosols are airborne particles that are living (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that may originate from living organisms. The health effects of bio-aerosols, including infectious diseases, acute toxic effects, allergies, and cancer coupled with the threat of bioterrorism and SARS and the recent COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased awareness on the importance of bio-aerosols.

This revolutionary product was developed and is manufactured by Israeli hi-tech startup Canario Ltd., and is exclusively marketed in North America by Kronos Advanced Technologies Inc.

The CANARIO sensor is a wearable, portable device that continuously monitors the user’s air quality in real-time utilizing an advanced laser sensor with sophisticated embedded Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) algorithms to perform automatic machine learning and self-calibration. This unique technology allows the CANARIO to detect a single particle measurement of atmospheric bacteria, molds, pollen, and other micro bio-aerosols as small as 0.3 micrometers (which is an equivalent size of about two Covid virus particles).

The compact, patent-pending CANARIO can be securely attached to the teacher’s bag or belt, or uniform and can be taken anywhere within the school indoors and outdoors and constantly monitors dangerous micro bio-aerosol contamination in the surrounding air within about 10 feet. The sensor connects via Bluetooth to the user-friendly CANARIO app to provide users with the quality of air, bio-aerosol contamination alerts, as well as tracking user’s social distancing. In addition to monitoring the air quality, the CANARIO also includes a micro-UV sensor for monitoring dangerous Ultraviolet radiation indoors and outdoors.

The App to alert people 

The CANARIO app constantly records and accumulates the data providing users with Air Quality alerts around the user. When the air quality and amount of potentially dangerous and infectious bio-aerosol rises above a certain recommended safe threshold; the device will vibrate while the user immediately receives an alert into his/her smartphone.

The CANARIO is designed to be used by individual users as well as in corporate or office environments allowing management to monitor social distancing at work. Built-in range sensor brings precision to social-distance monitoring and contact tracing. Safeguarding social distancing is one missing link for employees in the COVID-19 age. CANARIO range sensors can measure the distance between workers with very high accuracy and alert those within minimum recommended distance limits.

Significance of the drive

A Real-World Investigation to Engage High School Science Students describes the on-site monitoring of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in school classrooms and laboratories. The students were personally involved in the monitoring experience by using low-cost IAQ sensors and then in the evaluation and interpretation of the measured values.

The joint school–university project, which provides lessons, equipment, and support to high school classes, is a model of how to engage students in real-world science research and learning. The obtained results pointed out two alerts: unacceptable high levels of fine Particle Matter (PM2.5) – mainly entered indoor environments from highly polluted outdoor air – and uncomfortably high CO2 levels – due to classroom crowding and inadequate ventilation.

Nowadays, there is increasing concern about the impact of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) on human health. If improvements are not made, the poor quality air will generate long-term adverse effects as most of the air exposure occurs indoors, where people spend a substantial amount of their lives. This is particularly critical in school buildings considering that young people spend more than 60% of their time in schools and they are very sensitive to indoor pollutants, which also includes significant decrease in the efficiency of student learning processes and cognitive performances. Accordingly, it may be useful to develop new subjects related to these topics in the curricula of different school degrees in sciences and technology in order to raise student awareness about the quality of the environment where they learn and live.

With this is mind, the activity presented there is focused on indoor air quality monitoring in schools, in order to provide students with direct knowledge of the quality of the air they breathe. The students were actively involved in the teaching-learning activity since they personally used low-cost sensors based on modern sensor technology that is able to collect high-density temporal and spatial data in a broader range of households. In addition, the students were given instructions to elaborate the IAQ data measured in their own classroom/laboratory in order to analyze their dependence on different environment conditions.

Commenting on the study, Kronos President Michael Rubinov said, “We believe this pilot study is great news for public schools that don’t have the real-time data as schools need to safely monitor their indoor air quality. During the pandemic, as we witnessed in 2020, healthy, safe air is more important than ever.”

Can we implement such projects not only in our Indian schools but also in offices and other places of public gatherings like auditoriums, religious places even inside crowded trains?

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