School district turns to tech to fight virus

Ionization in a/c units to protect students, staff

RAYMONDVILLE — For years, some of the most renowned hospitals have turned to bipolar ionization technology to rid their air of mold, bacteria, allergens and viruses.

Now, the Raymondville school district is spending $626,000 to purchase Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology to install in its air-conditioning and heating units to kill pathogens including the coronavirus, Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton said Thursday.

“ RISD’s number-one priority is to keep our students, staff and community safe,” Superintendent Stetson stated. “We are a strong community and we will implement a united fight against COVID-19 using the best practices and technology available.”

The district is buying the technology from E3 Entegral Solutions, a Lewisville-based company on the state’s Buy Board, a purchasing cooperative of state-approved vendors.

By mid July, the company is expected to install the technology in the district’s air conditioning and heating units, Clinton said.

“ This investment in a tested technology is part of our dedicated action plan to provide a safe and comfortable educational work environment for students, staff and the community,” Roane stated.

The district will install the technology across its 500,000 square-feet of classrooms, gymnasiums, cafeterias and offices, Clinton said.

“ This technology will be installed in every classroom, office and indoor common areas where students and staff will be,” he stated. “We want everyone entering RISD to feel and be safe.”

A long-established technology, bipolar ionization employs basic biology to kill viruses such the coronavirus, Clinton said.

“ The Needlepoint Bipolar Ionizer utilizes specialized tubes that take oxygen molecules from the air and converts them into charged atoms,” a district press release states.

“ These charged atoms surround and deactivate harmful substances like airborne mold, bacteria, allergens and viruses. The end-result is cleaner and healthier air for occupants to breath, without the use of harmful chemicals.”

Research has found bipolar ionization kills pathogens in the air and on surfaces, Clinton stated.

Bipolar ionization “is an active process that provides continuous disinfection,” he stated. “It’s a process that will be working day and night to destroy harmful particles in the air and on surfaces.”

Mayor Gilbert Gonzales hailed the district’s big step to protect the community’s children.

“ I’m really excited for the kids because they’re going to be protected in school in the building,” he said. “It’s amazing what the Raymondville school district is doing. It’s expensive but it will be something to consider in bigger buildings including City Hall.”

City Commissioner Edward Gonzalez believes local governments should consider implementing the technology.

“ I applaud the school district for being at the forefront of innovation and technology in protecting our students as they return in the fall,” he said. “I think it’s something local governments should look into.”

Long-established in Europe, bipolar ionization was introduced in the United States in the 1970s to control pathogens in food processing.

By 2004, the technology was proven effective during the SARS outbreak before taking on outbreaks of MERS and norovirus along with various strains of influenza, according to last month’s edition of Business Insider.

According to the magazine, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston and the University of Maryland Medical Center have implemented the technology as well as airport terminals at LaGuardia, O’Hare, LAX, and San Francisco International.

Meanwhile, venues such as Tampa’s Amalie Arena along with JFK airport’s TWA Hotel are implementing the technology that’s being installed at such office complexes as Google headquarters in Chicago and San Jose, the magazine states.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com