Concerns over plan to use ozone in Welsh classrooms

13th of September 2021
Concerns over plan to use ozone in Welsh classrooms

A €3.83m scheme to equip Welsh schools with machines that disinfect classrooms after a Covid-19 outbreak has provoked controversy.

Every school, university and college in the country is to be supplied with ozone disinfecting machines, according to the Welsh education ministry. But Plaid Cymru has raised questions about toxic chemicals contained within the technology.

The 1,800 machines will cost €3.83m as part of €6.85m initiative to improve air quality in Welsh classrooms and lecture halls. Developed at Swansea University, the machines convert oxygen into ozone which kills Covid in the air and on surfaces along with other viruses and bacteria.

But ozone is so toxic that no one will be allowed inside the room while the machine is operating, according to Dr Chedly Tizaoui from the design team. He adds that the machines - each around the size of a suitcase - could be password protected to guard against misuse, while strict safety guidelines would be required before they were rolled out.

Welsh minister for finance and local government Rebecca Evans said: "By investing in new technology such as ozone disinfecting machines we're ensuring that learners can stay in school and colleges as Wales moves beyond the pandemic."

But Plaid Cymru's education spokesperson Siân Gwenllian said: "The use of ozone disinfecting machines is controversial and we all need to be satisfied that the Welsh government is absolutely certain that they are safe before introducing them."

Fresh Air Wales campaign member Dr Eilir Hughes said: "Adding a toxic substance to the environment raises concerns about how it will react to chemicals, particularly in soft furnishings. Is it sensible to be testing this in schools?"

He argues that better ventilation would be a safer and more effective means of tackling Covid in the classroom.


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