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State health department will continue free air purifier program for K-12 schools

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will provide air purifiers for schools in need.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended its free air purifier program for K-12 schools.

The program started in December 2022 as part of an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state health department's chief medical executive, said the air purifiers can protect against more than just the virus responsible for COVID-19 — including some recent airborne pollution.

"We're also now realizing that these types of air co-efficient devices are also helpful for when we have particulate matter in the air from wildfire smoke," Bagdasarian said. “They're really helpful for kids with asthma for example, kids with allergies and this is one way we can really support their learning environment so that they can stay in school comfortably and hopefully focus on the materials that they're learning.”

The health department said the program has distributed more than 42,600 air purification machines to 451 school districts across the state.

Bagdasarian said the state has plenty of air purifiers in stock, so schools are able to order as many machines as they need.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern and is currently working in his second summer. He is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.