None of us ever wants to hear that there is a wildfire raging near our home. Unfortunately, wildfires are common in some parts of the country and world, and for those who live in the area, the aftermath can wreak havoc on their life and health.
Recently there were serious wildfires that raged throughout parts of Australia. Though warnings have been downgraded in the past few days, authorities have made it clear that changes in wind direction may result in heavy smoke infiltrating urban areas of Canberra, the area hardest hit.
For residents that are forced to deal with the aftermath of nearby wildfires, the long-term health risks of breathing lingering smoke are real. And for the most vulnerable of the population, such as children, senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with asthma, the ramifications can be even more serious.
It’s also important to mention that smoke from wildfires does not stay local. You may think if you live in the next town you are safe from the toxins and particulate matter smoke contains. But the truth is, the hotter the fire, the higher the smoke will rise and the farther it can travel.
Smoke from wildfires has been known to travel thousands of miles. So the health hazards don’t just affect people in the immediate area. They have long-reaching ramifications.
Can an Air Purifier Help with Wildfire Smoke?
Smoke from wildfires is made up of gases and particulate matter that are produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest risk to your health comes from the fine particles, which can penetrate deep into your lungs and cause a range of health problems. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death.
The good news is, while you can’t protect yourself outside of your home, you can inside your home by using an air purifier. These devices are extremely effective at removing dangerous particulate matter as well as gases from your home’s air.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers are like an electrical set of lungs for your home. The purifier “inhales” the dirty air from your home. This air then passes through either a single filter or a series of filters that are designed to trap and remove the pollutants. Then, your air purifier “exhales” the clean air back into your home.
Most air purifiers come with a HEPA filter. These filters remove 99.97% of very tiny particles from the air. How tiny? Consider that the average human hair is 75 microns in diameter. A HEPA filter can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Wildfire smoke particles are generally between 0.4 to 0.7 microns in size, according to the E.P.A. This means a HEPA filter will be able to remove these dangerous chemicals from your home’s air.
Some air filters also come with an activated carbon filtering system. While a HEPA filter is able to remove all of the particulate matter from the air, it can’t remove toxic gases. For this you will need a unit that also uses an activated carbon filter.
Tips for Choosing the Right Air Purifier
For homes in smoke-prone areas, including those near wildfire-affected areas, you’ll want to follow some guidelines for selecting the right air purifier to do the job.
Make Sure It’s HEPA Certified
It’s important to make sure that the purifier is indeed HEPA certified. You should be able to read somewhere on the packaging or spec sheet “True HEPA.” Only “true HEPA” filters have been tested and certified as meeting the standards set by agencies such as the US Department of Energy. And only these filters have a removal rate of 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size.
Look for a CADR Rate
CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate – this basically measures the volume of air that will pass through your unit in a certain amount of time. This rating will tell you how efficiently the model will work based on the size of your room.
The size should match the room you are going to use the air purifier in. So a CADR rating for a 300 sq. ft. room won’t work as efficiently in an 800 sq. ft. room. To ensure your home’s air is as clean as possible, match the CADR to your accrual room size.
Replace Filters as Often as Necessary
It stands to reason that your air purifier is only as effective as the filters it uses. So make sure to replace yours as often as the manufacturer recommends. Depending on your household, you may need to replace more often.
For example, a HEPA filter will also remove pet dander from your home’s air. If you have many pets, your filter may become full of pollutants faster than someone else’s. So keep quite a few new filters on hand so you can just pop one in when needed.
Also, if you think you won’t remember to replace your filters often enough, then look for a unit that comes with a “replace filter” alert. These units can be very handy in busy households.
One Final Tip
When there has been a wildfire in your area and the smoke is extra thick, it’s a good idea to keep your windows closed at all times, even after it seems like the smoke has cleared. Also, you’ll want to run your purifier on high for 8-12 hours, then turn it down to medium or low. This should keep the amount of smoke in your home to an absolute minimum.
Need Any Help?
If you’re in the market for an air purifier to specifically help you filter smoke from your home’s air, take a moment to look through our selection of air purifiers designed specifically for smoke.
Have any questions? Get in touch with us. We don’t think we’re in the business of selling air purifiers, we feel we’re in the business to help families breathe better.