SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Air purifiers will soon be available in every K through 12 classroom across the state of Utah. The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (UDHHS) have joined forces with funding from a federal grant called the ELC Reopening Schools Grant to make it happen as part of a far-reaching clean air initiative.

Research presented by the Brookings Institution shows there are significant declines in test scores when students take tests on days with high levels of pollution.  Even low levels of air pollution can begin to impair brain development, memory, and learning capability. Without air purification, infectious diseases such as COVID-19 become more severe and increase in transmissibility. 

With medical research in mind, UPHE and UDHHS say putting air purifiers in schools will improve student performances, make classrooms safer, reduce absenteeism, and improve the overall health of students and teachers. 

“Medical research shows cleaner air helps protect long-term brain development and function,” said Dr. Brian Moench, President of UPHE. “Our school children have suffered a huge setback in their education because of COVID-19, so we should be doing everything we can to help them catch up. This program will improve their learning, test scores, and career potential.”

To receive the air purifiers, school districts and individual schools only need to sign up for the program at the UPHE website. Once signed up, UPHE and UDHHS will take care of the rest. The federal grant ends July 31, 2023, so the organizations recommended interested schools and school districts sign up as soon as possible. 

“Cleaner air means a more productive and safer classroom for students and teachers,” said Jonny Vasic, Executive Director at UPHE. “This air purifier program is being paid for by a federal grant, not costing schools or parents anything. But schools have to sign up for the program. We encourage every teacher and every student’s parents to make sure their school has them.”