Clean air at the University of Oregon

In 2005 I applied to the linguistics program at the University of Oregon for the 2006 year. I was not accepted at that time. This year I was accepted to the nonprofit management masters at the University of Oregon. I have had many interesting encounters and experiences at the university this term. One of these experiences relates to air quality.

As we now know from COVID, air quality is significantly important to public health. At first the thought was that COVID was spread via liquid droplets — hence the mask mandates and their presumed effectiveness. However, now the consensus seems to be to acknowledge that COVID-19 is airborne. This drives some of the perceived need for quality air or “clean” air. One of the more popular standards for air filters is HEPA. Socially there seems to have been a resurgence in the interest in HEPA filters since general awareness of COVID came to be. However, the virus which causes COVID-19 is smaller than HEPA filters out. That means HEPA is not a good filtration system for corona viruses, including the one which causes COVID-19.

The University of Oregon has renewed their use of HEPA filters in their classrooms.

Email newsletter sent out to students from the University of Oregon

I am extremely excited that the university has added room based air filters to classrooms. As someone who appreciates clean air this is a huge step forward. It does beg the question: if HEPA is not useful for COVID abatement, and the university is now acknowledging the need for clean air, why didn’t they acknowledge the need for clean air previously?

HEPA filter placed in classroom at the University of Oregon.

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