• E3 Pandemic Response

Can the spread of flu be limited by purifying the indoor air?

– E3 is starting extensive study in Helsinki kindergartens


E3 project is starting an extensive research in Helsinki's four kindergartens. The two-year multidisciplinary study begins in November 2022, covering the entire early childhood education in the city of Helsinki. The core purpose of the study is to focus on four kindergartens in Helsinki to find out whether air purification can reduce the incidence of circulating upper respiratory tract infections and stomach diseases in children and adults. The arrangement offers a unique opportunity to follow the people who spend a significant part of the day in the same indoor space for two years.


On average, children of a certain age suffer from ten to thirteen infectious infections per year. Infections last on average one to three weeks. During these days, the children cannot go to daycare and their other parent or grandparent must stay home to take care of them. At least some of the infections are assumed to be contracted from daycare.


Infections also cause kindergarten staff to get sick and be absent from work during epidemics. Babysitters, daycare nurses and kindergarten teachers were absent from work for an average of 21–29 days in the first year of the corona pandemic in 2020. Daycare infections are therefore of great social significance.

The study maps the morbidity of children and employees in all early childhood education units of the city of Helsinki. In addition to this, an air cleaning intervention will be implemented in four kindergartens, which is hoped to reduce infections in daycare and thus the child's overall morbidity.


"I think it's great that we get to participate in this research. I'm glad that this kind of thing is finally being investigated. Infectious diseases and infections really challenge families with young children as well as early childhood education staff and cause a lot of sick leave. It would be socially significant if ways were found to reduce infectious disease infections in kindergartens," says the City of Helsinki's director of early childhood education, Miia Kemppi.

The multidisciplinary research includes, among other things, easy quick tests delivered to families, health surveys of children, parents and staff to find out symptoms, specific indoor air solutions, measurements of air quality and aerosols in the premises, and a comprehensive analysis of the above mentioned.

It includes medical research such as the measurement of morbidity and the collection of biological virus samples from both people and the environment carried out in intervention kindergartens, construction technical surveys and extensive aerosol studies. The aerosol part of the research focuses on cleaning indoor air and measuring indoor air conditions in order to find direct and indirect indicators to identify airborne pathogens. In addition, indoor air pollutants in kindergartens are filtered using the air cleaning technologies of the project's business partners.


The research material is supplemented with already existing register information. The samples are collected and processed by researchers. In addition, pollutants in the indoor air of daycare centres are filtered using the air-cleaning technologies of the project's business partners.


The research focuses on cleaning indoor air and measuring indoor air conditions to find direct and indirect indicators for identifying airborne pathogens.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, the role of airborne pathogens has become very important. Minimizing airborne infections requires a radical reduction of the concentration of infectious pathogens in the breathing air.

Important starting points:

  • the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infections is reduced by cleaning the breathing air of pathogens

  • air purification also reduces the occurrence of stomach diseases

  • employee sickness and absenteeism will decrease

  • parental absences from work due to a child's/own illness in the family will decrease

The research is led by doctor Enni Sanmark from the Helsinki University Hospital and industrial professor Piia Sormunen from the University of Tampere.


There are several leading companies involved in the cooperation, which bring e.g. diagnostics, ventilation and sensor technology, as research entities such as Helsingin yliopistollinen sairaala (HUS), Tampereen yliopisto, Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu, Ilmatieteen laitos, Työterveyslaitos, Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos, VTT and Helsinki University. Companies included: Granlund, Air0, Halton Group, Lifa Air, Alme Solutions, Inspector SEC (ISEC), SmartWatcher, Filterpak and Roche Diagnostics.

E3 Pandemic Response and Enterprise Solutions is a 2.5-year joint development project financed by Business Finland and the companies involved. The goal is to study the routes of the spread of viruses and how the various functions of society can be kept functional despite pandemics. The multidisciplinary project is jointly built by indoor air ecosystems CleverHealth Network and the Indoor Air Quality ecosystem (IAQe). E3 involves a total of 22 Finnish companies and seven research institutes and is coordinated by Tamlink and Spinverse.


For more information:

Piia Sormunen

Tampereen yliopisto

p. +358 50 476 6731

piia.sormunen@tuni.fi


Enni Sanmark

Helsingin yliopistollinen sairaala

p. +358 40 844 6940

enni.sanmark@hus.fi



Read this article in Finnish here.

References:

Heikkinen, T. & Ruuskanen, O. Lapsen infektiokierre. Lääketieteellinen Aikakauskirja Duodecim. 2001;117(7):731-736. https://www.duodecimlehti.fi/duo92177


Heikkinen, T., Waris, M. & Ruuskanen, O. Lasten infektiosairaudet: Flunssa. 18.11.2020. 2022 Kustannus Oy Duodecim. https://www.oppiportti.fi/op/lif00002/do


Jalanko, H. Flunssa lapsella. Lääkärikirja Duodecim. 17.2.2021. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00124


Photo: Canva