Is the air filtration at Cal State LA routinely maintained?


Will Baker

Photographs of six different air vents at King Hall, the Library, U-SU, Arts & Letters, Fine Arts, and Salazar Hall. Photos and collage by Will Baker.

The air filtration in campus buildings and classrooms helps prevent air contaminants from getting people sick such as viruses including COVID-19 and the flu.

But some at the university have concerns in regards to the filtration systems and maintenance of them.

Dr. Deborah Hanan, an academic senator and lecturer representative of the College of Arts and Letters, spoke of her concerns at the most recent Academic Senate meeting.

My concern is whether the filtration systems were being routinely inspected and filters changed,” Hanan said. “And if there is currently some kind of facilities reporting requirement or other mechanism in place where information regarding the maintenance of this system is published, to assure their air filtration efficacy is routinely monitored and filters replaced based on Department of Education and CDC recommendations and guidelines.”

Hanan thinks being straightforward with this information is important.

“[I]nformation pertaining to health and safety in large institutional environments should always be easily accessible, clear and transparent to the communities they host,” Hanan said. “To not do so can lead to unnecessary speculation, concern, distress and potential harm that could be easily avoided.”

The concern of maintenance isn’t the only one others have concerns about their health because of possible unchanged air filters.

Vianca Reales, a criminal justice major, has interest in the filters and their cleanliness.

“I believe with the population of the school and the amount of people in classrooms everyday, the filters may need to be replaced sooner than usual,” Reales said. “It is needed that they are inspected to make sure they are working properly.”

Like Hanan, Reales wants more transparency about this information.

“I do think there should be some maintenance log that allows staff and students to see the maintenance information for the rooms where many people are going in and out of,” Reales said. “It is not fair to the professors and students to not be aware of the cleanliness of their classrooms.”

A Cal State LA Communication and Public Affairs spokesperson gave a statement in regard to the longevity of the air filters and the maintenance behind them.

“Cal State LA facilities staff regularly check and change air filters in buildings across campus. [90%] of air filters on campus have meters that gauge differential pressure. The meters are checked regularly.”

Filters are replaced as needed based on differential pressure calculations rather than the number of months in use, according to the spokesperson.

“This type of monitoring is more precise and is consistent with industry standards for commercial buildings,” the spokesperson said. “Cal State LA is in compliance with guidelines for air filter use.”

Before the return to campus in 2021, air filters were upgraded in buildings across campus. 

The filters differ at each building, but the minimum filter is a MERV 13,according to the spokesperson, which can capture particles as big as 3 to 10 microns at a 90% while smaller particles such as .3 to 1 microns at 50%, according to the Evironmental Protection Agency’s website.

Since then, all air filters have been changed at least once, according to the spokesperson.