Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke

How to Reduce Your Exposure at Home and Work

heating of the planet is causing more intense and unpredictable wildfires. While seasonal wildfires are normal, Lynn Johnston, a forest fire research specialist at the Canadian Forest Service, says, We are seeing an increase in fire activity — more area burning, more fires burning, a much longer fire season.” 

Smoke particles are dangerous to the human body and can penetrate deep into our lungs when inhaled. This can cause a number of different health concerns, especially for at-risk individuals, including those with heart disease, older adults, children, and people living with diabetes.

Learn more about the risks of wildfire smoke exposure, who is most at risk, and how to reduce your exposure at home and at work.

How Wildfire Smoke Affects Your Health

Smoke is composed of a complex mixture of gases and microscopic fire particles produced when wood or other organic materials burn. Fire particles are about 2.5 micron in size, which is about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The largest health threat that comes from smoke are these tiny particles, which can penetrate deep into your lungs when inhaled. 

These particles can cause a wide range of mild to severe health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to chronic lung and heart diseases to premature death. 

People who are more at risk: 

  • People living with heart or lung disease (angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, asthma, or emphysema)
  • Older or elderly adults (who are more likely to suffer from heart and lung disease than younger people)
  • Children and teenagers (since their respiratory systems are still developing, they’re more likely to spend a lot of time outdoors, they breathe more air per pound of bodyweight than adults, and they’re more likely to have asthma)
  • Pregnant women (there could be health risks to the mother as well as the developing fetus)
  • People living with diabetes (which also makes someone more likely to have underlying cardiovascular disease)

If any of the above describes you, or if you’re responsible for the care of someone who fits the above descriptions, it’s important to take the risks of smoke inhalation seriously. 

How to Monitor Air Quality 

Poor air quality is sneaky and often undetectable, and you might not even notice that you’re breathing in toxins. Air pollution is a complex mixture of substances, including fire particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The Government of Canada estimates that 15,300 premature deaths per year in Canada can be linked to air pollution

Stay in the know about current air quality risks and warnings. Depending on the severity of the risk, you may want to limit your time spent outside and use air purification to clean the air inside your home and workplace. 

The Government of Canada has an Air Quality Health Index based on popular cities that are also broken down by smaller cities within each province. You can also follow air quality measurements through The Weather Network or whatever weather app you use. Just like humidity or UV levels, they will provide an air quality rating.

How to Clear Your Home or Business of Wildfire Smoke

Outdoor air can enter your home or place of business through a variety of means, including natural ventilation, such as open doors and windows, and mechanical ventilation, such as bathroom or kitchen fans that vent to the outdoors, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with a fresh air intake. 

To reduce infiltration of outdoor air pollutants during at-risk times:

  • Keep windows and doors closed, using air conditioning only if required
  • Seal windows and doors with weather stripping
  • When the outdoor air improves, let in fresh air
  • Use an air purifier 

Using an Air Purifier for Wildfire Smoke

While keeping your windows and doors closed and sealing them with weather stripping will reduce the amount of smoke that enters your home or office, it will also trap you inside with a number of other pollutants that come from household cleaners and disinfectants, paint and other solvents, air fresheners, and other aerosol sprays, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals that can cause a range of adverse health effects, from eye, nose, and throat irritation to headaches and nausea to damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. 

Quality air filters scrub the air, removing both harmful indoor and outdoor pollutants so that you, your family, or your staff are not inviting fire particulate matter and VOCs into your lungs with every breath. 

There are many other benefits to using an air purifier in your home or workplace. Learn more: 10 Air Purifier Benefits for Health and Safety.

What Are the Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke?

Look for an air purifier that comes with a Super HEPA filter, as well as an activated carbon filter, and a germicidal UV. All three of these working together will efficiently and effectively scrub the air, removing smoke, other harmful pollutants, and even viruses from the air you breathe at work or at home. 

Super HEPA Filter (0.1 Micron)

In order to be effective, an air purifier must be able to filter micron particles and microorganisms from the air. A Super HEPA filter removes 99.9% of all particles at 0.1 micron in size. Since fire particles are 2.5 micron, Super HEPA filters will handily remove these particles from the air before they enter your lungs. 

Preliminary research also indicates that air pollution can increase COVID-19 susceptibility, severity, and death. Super HEPA filters are so effective that they not only filter particulate matter and various chemicals, they can even filter airborne viruses, such as the coronavirus, from the air. The size of the coronavirus is approximately 0.125 micron in diameter. A Super HEPA filter removes 99.9% of all particles at 0.1 micron in size. 

Activated Carbon Filter

Activated carbon filters are small pieces of carbon that have been treated to be very porous. They remove bad smells from the air without covering up the odors with other harmful chemicals, and they’re specially designed to remove harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene. HEPA filters and activated carbon filters must work together, as only having a HEPA filter will mean chemicals that stress your immune system will sail straight through. 

Germicidal UV

A Germicidal UV Bulb is an electric light that produces ultraviolet C (UV-C) light. The short-wave ultraviolet light neutralizes airborne germs, larger viruses, and mold spores by disabling their DNA. The most effective air purifiers have this technology working alongside a Super HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter.

Learn more in our guide on How to Choose an Air Purifier, which includes a checklist of important features and product specifications you should look for.

Contact Intelligent Air to Learn More

Intelligent Air is a Canadian company proudly based in Waterloo, Ontario. We specialize in AllerAir Air Purifiers that target fire particulate matter, viruses, bacteria, and other harmful air pollutants. 

To learn more about what air purification system is right for your home or business, contact our team today.

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