The recent and tragic wildfires in northern California have prompted many to question the respiratory hazards that are being generated due to the pungent smoke and particulate blowing off of these fires. The smoke that is produced during these fires contains a mixture of gases and fine particulates that is generated from organic plant material. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “this smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases” (www.cdc.gov). Those who already have preexisting conditions with lung and heart diseases are at greatest risk and should protect themselves from exposure. This group also includes older adults and young children who’s airways are still developing.
If you are downstream from the wildfires, it is advised by the CDC to check local air quality reports to ensure it is safe to be outdoors. One site they recommend is AirNow.gov . This site provides reports based of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI).
Being indoors can also be detrimental to your air quality as the house acts as an insulator and will hold the smoke laden air indoors. Many facets of entry such as air conditions, and doors and windows introduce polluted air inside homes.
Improving indoor air quality:
Utilizing engineering safety controls such as indoor room air cleaners with HEPA filtration can significantly improve your indoor air quality, and help reduce the number of airborne particulate found in the home. Furthermore, combining sorbent media, such as, activated carbon filtration can also help to adsorb nuisance odors and gases found in organic materials such as plants and trees. These systems use negative pressure to capture and filter the air, and after purification, return HEPA filtered air back into your room. There is no need for exterior venting or make-up air, thus recycling the ambient air. Since no return air is needed, the indoor air quality stays and continues to improve as outside elements are not continually being exposed into your home or office.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wearing dust masks are not enough to protect your lungs. Even N-95 or P-100 masks per the EPA will help, however, will not be able to filter down the fine particulate that can be found in smoke. A genuine HEPA filter is recommended to filter these particles that is rated up to 99.97% on particles down to 0.3 microns in particle size.
Portable Room Air Cleaners (PDF)
Solutions by Sentry Air Systems, Inc.:
We offer multiple sizes of air cleaners ranging from up to 80 CFM to upwards of 2,000 CFM depending on the size, efficiency and filtration requirements that you have. You can visit our ambient room air cleaners page here for a full gallery of the products we offer.
Technical applications specialists are available to discuss your application and needs in regards to wildfire smoke filtration.