A study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of three air purification systems in reducing the exposure of children to air contaminants inside nine classrooms of three Southern California schools. Continuous and integrated measurements were conducted to monitor the indoor and outdoor concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFPs), fine and coarse particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10 , respectively), black carbon (BC), and volatile organic compounds. An heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC)-based high-performance panel filter (HP-PF), a register-based air purifier (RS), and a stand-alone air cleaning system (SA) were tested alone and in different combinations for their ability to remove the monitored pollutants. The combination of a RS and a HP-PF was the most effective solution for lowering the indoor concentrations of BC, UFPs, and PM2.5 , with study average reductions between 87% and 96%. When using the HP-PF alone, reductions close to 90% were also achieved. In all cases, air quality conditions were improved substantially with respect to the corresponding baseline (preexisting) conditions. Data on the performance of the gas-absorbing media included in the RS and SA unit were inconclusive, and their effectiveness, lifetime, costs, and benefits must be further assessed before conclusions and recommendations can be made.

Practical implications:

The installation of effective air filtration devices in classrooms may be an important mitigation measure to help reduce the exposure of school children to indoor pollutants of outdoor origin including ultrafine particles and diesel particulate matter, especially at schools located near highly trafficked freeways, refineries, and other important sources of air toxics.