Berlin (dpa) – The left-wing faction is requesting at least 400 million euros from the federal government in subsidies to states and municipalities for mobile air filters in schools.
“The goal must be guaranteed and safe classroom teaching,” said the spokeswoman for the parliamentary group for science policy, Nicole Gohlke, of the German news agency in Berlin. “A new round of closures would be unmanageable for children, parents and teachers.” The Federal Bureau of Radiation Protection, meanwhile, urges caution when using certain air filters.
The federal government is encouraging the use of ventilation technology in the Corona crisis following a resolution last year with a total of 500 million euros until 2024. In order to use the resources, the federal states must also contribute financially. The funds are not only intended for schools, but also for other public buildings. According to a cabinet decision in mid-July, 200 million will be reserved for mobile air filters in schools.
A committee of experts from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has provided the federal government with the technical expertise for “indoor air hygiene questions,” according to a response from the Ministry of Economy to Gohlke. In addition, there was an exchange between different ministries. “Separate expert hearings have not been held.” The Federal Environmental Service recommends opening the windows as much as possible for ventilation or to use stationary systems. But where both are not or insufficiently possible, mobile air purifiers can be useful.
Gohlke criticized that: “The federal government should be asked if it just didn’t want to hear the reviews from outside experts because it was too expensive to buy the mobile devices,” she explained. “Millions of students are sent to homeschooling that has been proven to be stressful, and the federal government has been twiddling its thumbs for months.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Inge Paulini, urged caution when using certain air purifiers. “During the corona pandemic, mobile air purifiers in kindergartens and schools can be a useful addition to the already proven hygiene measures,” she told the dpa. “If UV-C radiation is used, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection believes that, in addition to the effect of the devices on air contaminated with viruses, people in particular should be protected from UV-C radiation.”
UV-C radiation is UV radiation with a relatively short wavelength. Paulini warned that it can damage the skin and eyes and has been proven to be carcinogenic. “Even more than adults, children need to be protected from potential long-term consequences.”
However, there are already many useful experiences with the disinfection of air, water, surfaces and food using UV-C radiation, says Paulini. It is used for disinfection when there are no people in the room or the source can be properly shielded. “These applications are unproblematic from a radiation protection point of view and should be used.”