Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Wolves Out'Chere Shearing Sheeple...,

khn |  Last summer, Global Plasma Solutions wanted to test whether the company’s air-purifying devices could kill covid-19 virus particles but could find only a lab using a chamber the size of a shoebox for its trials. In the company-funded study, the virus was blasted with 27,000 ions per cubic centimeter.

In September, the company’s founder incidentally mentioned that the devices being offered for sale actually deliver a lot less ion power — 13 times less — into a full-sized room.

The company nonetheless used the shoebox results — over 99% viral reduction — in marketing its device heavily to schools as something that could combat covid in classrooms far, far larger than a shoebox.

School officials desperate to calm worried parents bought these devices and others with a flood of federal funds, installing them in more than 2,000 schools across 44 states, a KHN investigation found. They use the same technology — ionization, plasma and dry hydrogen peroxide — that the Lancet COVID-19 Commission recently deemed “often unproven” and potential sources of pollution themselves.

In the frenzy, schools are buying technology that academic air-quality experts warn can lull them into a false sense of security or even potentially harm kids. And schools often overlook the fact that their trusted contractors — typically engineering, HVAC or consulting firms — stand to earn big money from the deals, KHN found.

Academic experts are encouraging schools to pump in more fresh air and use tried-and-true filters, like HEPA, to capture the virus. Yet every ion- or hydroxyl-blasting air purifier sale strengthens a firm’s next pitch: The device is doing a great job in the neighboring town.

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more people buy these technologies, the more they get legitimacy,” said Jeffrey Siegel, a civil engineering professor at the University of Toronto. “It’s really the complete wild west out there.”

Marwa Zaatari, a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Epidemic Task Force, first compiled a list of schools and districts using such devices.

Schools have been “bombarded with persistent salespersons peddling the latest air and cleaning technologies, including those with minimal evidence to-date supporting safety and efficacy” according to a report released Thursday by the Center for Green Schools and ASHRAE.

Zaatari said she was particularly concerned that officials in New Jersey are buying thousands of devices made by another company that says they emit ozone, which can exacerbate asthma and harm developing lungs, according to decades of research.

“We’re going to live in a world where the air quality in schools is worse after the pandemic, after all of this money,” Zaatari said. “It’s really sickening.”

The sales race is fueled by roughly $193 billion in federal funds allocated to schools for teacher pay and safety upgrades — a giant fund that can be used to buy air cleaners. And Democrats are pushing for $100 billion more that could also be spent on air cleaners.

In April, Global Plasma Solutions said further tests show its devices inactivate covid in the air and on surfaces in larger chambers. The company studies still use about twice the level of ions than its leaders have publicly said the devices can deliver, KHN found.

There is virtually no federal oversight or enforcement of safe air-cleaning technology. Only California bans air cleaners that emit a certain amount of ozone.

U.S. Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chair of the education and labor committee, said the federal government typically is not involved in local decisions of what products to buy, although he hopes for more federal guidance.

In the meantime, “these school systems are dealing with contractors providing all kinds of services,” he said, “so you just have to trust them to get the best expert advice on what to do.”