Advertorial: Cool Schools – Improving air quality with smart, environmental solutions

Craig Lewis of SUEZ, a leading French utility company and key player in environmental preservation, discusses efforts to clean the atmosphere with green tech.

The town of Poissy in the French region of Il-de-France is a place known for both its historic, medieval sites and structures, as well as its large-scale car manufacturing industry. Located just outside of Paris, the town is starting to become known for something else — its campaign towards improved air quality.

In recent years, Poissy has been one of the active participants of Paris region’s ‘Changeons d’air’ (‘Clean up our air’) project. The project, which was launched in 2016, is the Paris region’s priority environmental and health policy. Its aim is to reduce, if not eliminate, sources of air pollution and find ways to improve the region’s air quality.

For local authorities in Poissy, one of the best ways to push this air quality initiative is through its schools. Considered as ‘sensitive receptors’, schools are powerful places to disseminate positive messaging in the promotion of good air quality. Sensitive receptors are places where vulnerable groups may experience adverse effects of air pollution and other pollutants.

Working in partnership with SUEZ, a key player in environmental preservation, local authorities sought to improve the air quality in schoolyards by bringing in innovative technology that not only monitors, but purifies, the air around designated areas.

SUEZ offered its patented InspR to Poissy’s Victor Hugo Elementary School, which incorporates a bespoke, multi-stage air treatment solution especially designed for public areas. InspR, a part of the SUEZ AirAdvanced® solution, is capable of removing fine particulate matter such as PM10, PM2.5, and PM1, as well as nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), viruses, among others.

Key pollutants particularly affects highly susceptible groups, such as young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions and co-morbidities.

PM2.5 are minute particles in the air measuring 2-1/2 microns (or less) in width. Along with N02, these substances can deeply penetrate into the lungs and, eventually, get into the bloodstream, potentially causing respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular ailments.

The InspR-led air quality treatment created a clean ‘air bubble’ in the primary school’s playground in Poissy. The well-designed system, is seamlessly integrated into the school landscape using colourful, pop culture themes. It also enabled the children to play without the installation causing any disturbance or distractions.

Among the key benefits the school received with this installation are reduced exposure to critical air quality pollutants; tailored treatment according to air quality target and specific locations; high treatment efficiency; and broad-spectrum treatment.

Rather than a mere policy-driven exercise, the physical installation of InspR in Poissy’s schoolyard and playground opened up a dialogue and exchange of information among teachers and students. In turn, it raised awareness about the health benefits of having good air quality. This new-found knowledge will then be conveyed to the parents, and spread around the community. The campaign is geared towards behaviour change resulting in public health being valued by the whole population.

The centralisation of air quality initiatives around schools is a positive approach and can be extremely effective to build positive messaging, leading to widespread awareness and subsequent benefits to the whole populace. Besides the promotion of innovative technology like InspR, including schools in the integrated monitoring networks in Poissy will also encourage more companies and institutions to optimise air quality improvements.

It is also important to note that instead of focusing on air pollution ‘hotspots’, public health authorities need to consider other factors like socioeconomic status or exposure to other environmental determinants of health. This way, it’s air quality management will be more efficiently addressed.

The Poissy project is just one example of the varied SUEZ air quality solutions available to schools anywhere in the world. These solutions are an integral part of the SUEZ commitment to address climate change, improve air quality and public health, and promote ‘Smart City’ initiatives.

The quest for improved air quality is of urgent concern, especially if it adversely affects the health of children and other vulnerable groups. The combined effort of local authorities and air quality experts to reduce harmful air pollutants to as low as reasonably practicable is a good start. Is the rest of the world ready to take on this challenge and follow suit?


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