Horry County Schools Spends $ 7 Million to Install New Air Purification Systems

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Schools in Horry County are working on a way to keep the coronavirus out of its hallways and classrooms.

The school district is installing ionization systems that will purify the air in classrooms and hallways.

HCS has received $ 125 million from the federal government to try to make schools coronavirus-free when students return. It all starts somewhere you can’t see: in the air vents.

“We always say that the most expensive part of any building is above the ceiling where people cannot see,” said HCS spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier. “That’s where all the systems are. These bipolar ionization systems, which are air purification systems, will reside in the ducts of the indoor units.

The school district has spent $ 7 million on 7,000 bipolar ionization units that will go to 54 different schools and facilities.

Ionizers pump ions into the air, which changes the polarization of bacteria, viruses, dust, and pollen particles so that they clump together. Once they clump together, it is easier for them to get caught by the filters in HVAC systems.

HCS has been dealing with air quality for several years after St. James Elementary School encountered a mold problem in 2019.

“Indoor air quality has been an issue that has been around for years, but having this additional funding helps us move these processes and projects forward faster than we normally could,” said Bourcier. “Certainly facility upgrades and indoor air quality improvements. Not just to help with COVID, but everything in between, filtering the air to make sure we have a clean respiratory environment. “

In 2019, the district created teams to check the air quality in each school to ensure it remains at acceptable levels.

These teams are now playing a role as ionization units begin to be installed.

“What we’ve done to prioritize some of these schools is to look at some of the complaints we have and identify these schools first,” Bourcier said. “These are the ones we’re looking to finish first.”

The school district plans to install them in 23 locations by the end of the summer, and then complete the remaining 31 schools and facilities by August 2022.

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