2018 was a bad year for wildfires around the country. States like Colorado, California and Texas were ravaged by fires that swept across forests, prairies and scrubland, devastating hundreds of thousands of acres in total.
According to the U.S. Department of Interior, roughly 90% of wildfires in this country are caused by people. This is often the result of burning debris or leaving campfires unattended, discarding cigarettes in a careless manner, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10% of wildfires are started by lightening or lava, as is often the case in Hawaii.
The High Cost of Wildfires
Wildfires are awful for numerous reasons. To start, they kill wildlife and devastate their homes. Consider that in 2018, 7,579 wildfires burned away 1,667,855 acres in the state of California alone.
And then there’s the cost. Looking at California again, the state spent almost $3 billion dealing with wildfires, and that doesn’t include the extra $1.366 billion used for fire suppression. These numbers don’t even take into consideration personal property damage.
If you’re a resident of Texas, as we are, you know that Wildfires often lead to property damage. In fact, in 2017, the Lone Star State claimed the second highest amount of property damage spending while it came in fourth for number of acres burned.
How Wildfire Smoke Jeopardizes Our Health
But there is another issue with wildfires and that is the negative impact the smoke has on our health. Whether you live only a few miles away or in the next state, smoke from wildfires should not be breathed. And that smoke does travel and probably farther than you imagine.
Generally, the hotter the fire, the higher the smoke rises, and when it reaches higher altitudes, strong winds send it in all directions. Consider that smoke from a wildfire in Texas can reach the Atlantic Ocean!
But smoke from wildfires is most dangerous when it hangs low and stays in the atmosphere where we breathe. If you can smell smoke, this means you’re breathing it, and for many, this can cause real health issues.
“The principal exposure from wildfire smoke is from the particulates," says Dr. Jacqueline Moline, who specializes in occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in New York. Particles from wildfire smoke are less than 2.5 micro meters in size. So, you may not see them, but they are in the air and ready to do some damage.
When exposed to wildfire smoke, people can experience numerous symptoms such as headaches, eye irritation, and irritation of the linings of their nasal passages, sinuses, throat and bronchi. And these are just the reactions that can be expected in healthy people!
People whose health is already compromised can face other issues when subjected to wildfire smoke. For example, inhaling wildfire smoke can lead to a worsening of asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Studies have shown that people with chronic breathing issues are more likely to need to take a trip to the ER when wildfire smoke is in the air.
What’s in Wildfire Smoke That Causes Problems?
It’s hard to know exactly what makes up that particulate matter in wildfire smoke, but best guesses are it’s a mixture of gases and particles from burning trees and other plant material. If homes have been destroyed, there may be toxic plastic gasses that are added. When these particles and gasses are inhaled into the lungs, they can cause inflammation and cellular damage.
Perhaps even worse is that the particulate matter in wildfire smoke is so small, it can actually pass through lung tissue and enter directly into the blood stream, where it can do even more damage.
Can an Air Purifier Help Protect Your Health Against Wildfire Smoke?
Yes, it absolutely can, provided you buy the right one. You see, like other products on the market, not all air purifiers have been created equally. While some have been designed to clean stale air or remove allergens like dust mites and pet dander, not all can handle the gas particles that are found in wildfire smoke.
In order for an air purifier to remove dangerous smoke particulates and protect your family’s health, you must make sure the unit has the following features:
Gas-Phase Filter Air Purifiers
We already discussed a little bit about what exactly is in wildfire smoke – some visible particles and some invisible gases. While none of it is good to inhale, it is really the gases that can be the most dangerous to your health. This is why it is important to look for an air purifier that uses a carbon filtration system that can trap gaseous substances.
In addition, since these gases are all made up of different kinds and sizes of molecules, you will ideally want to look for a filtration system that uses a multi-filter approach to remove as many VOCs as possible.
While the carbon filter is removing the dangerous gases from your home’s air, you’ll need a HEPA filter to remove those visible smoke particles. Air purifiers that use a HEPA filtration system can remove 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter.
Medical Grade Quality
Sometimes you need a heavy-duty piece of equipment to get the job done, as when you are trying to protect your health from wildfire smoke. That’s why we recommend you look for an air purifier that has been labeled “Medical Grade.” These units have been built with the highest standards in mind and are generally used within healthcare organizations, where people are subjected to all kinds of dangerous airborne pathogens. If you know an air purifier does a great job in a hospital, you can be sure it will do a great job in your home.
360-Degree Air Intake
Your air purifier is only effective if environmental air can be easily drawn in and blown back out. For this reason, we also recommend that you look for units that offer a 360- degree intake system, which simply means air is drawn in all the way around the unit. The result is you get more clean air delivered faster and more efficiently than other air purifiers on the market.
Pure Breeze Solutions is pleased to offer the Austin B402 Air Purifier, one of the absolute best air purifiers on the market. This unit not only removes the visible particles using a powerful HEPA filter, but also the invisible and dangerous gases that can harm your health using a 5 Stage Filtration - HEGA Carbon Cloth. The Austin B402 Air Purifier is also medical grade and has been constructed using the highest standards and best materials available.
Do you still have questions? Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you find just the right air purifier for your home.