Wildfires create a serious amount of smoke and air pollution. Wildfire smoke can cause short and long-term health impacts. That’s why it’s important to know how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.
Wildfire smoke is a form of air pollution. It contains dangerous VOC gases and small particles (PM2.5) that can cause serious health effects. This article will cover how to protect your health from wildfire smoke with three simple steps. Be it in California, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.
3 Tips for Protection Against Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire Safety Tip 1: Stay Indoors and Close Windows
The easiest thing you can do to protect yourself against wildfire smoke is to stay indoors and seal your home from the outdoors. This includes shutting all doors and windows, to decrease the amount of wildfire smoke entering your home.
Just staying inside and limiting the amount of outdoor air that enters your home can reduce the smoke air pollution you breathe by 40%.
Wildfire Safety Tip 2: Wear a Mask When Outdoors
For most areas affected by wildfire smoke, the most dangerous air pollutant is small particulate matter called PM2.5.
Watch: Five Things You Should Know About PM2.5 Pollution
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Fortunately, masks are great at filtering this out!
One of the best masks for filtering out air pollution from wildfire smoke is an N95 mask. An N95 mask is designed to filter out 95% or more of dangerous small .3 micron particle matter.
But what if you can not get your hand on an N95 mask? It turns out a surgical mask does a decent job as well filtering out these dangerous PM2.5 particles produced by wildfire smoke. A standard surgical mask can reduce PM2.5 particulates by 63%, much better than nothing!
Wildfire Safety Tip 3: Turn On an Air Purifier When Indoors
Air purifiers are the best way to protect from wildfire smoke and ensure you are breathing pollution and smoke-free air inside. Purifiers with HEPA filters are extremely effective at capturing dangerous PM2.5 particulate matter found in wildfire smoke.
While closing your doors and windows can reduce PM2.5 pollution by 50%, HEPA air filters can reduce PM2.5 from wildfire smoke by over 99%.
When selecting an air purifier, make sure the air purifier is powerful enough for your space size. With a sufficient air purifier(s), you can nearly eliminate wildfire smoke’s dangerous PM2.5 particulate matter from your home.
Extra Tip: Use Carbon Filters in Addition to a HEPA Filter to Capture VOCs
HEPA filters do a great job filtering out ultra-fine particles like PM2.5, but VOC gases are too small for them to capture. So what can you do to protect yourself against dangerous VOC gases in wildfire smoke? Carbon filters!
For filtering out VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde, carbon filters are very effective.
In summary, to best protect yourself against ultra-fine particulate pollution and the dangerous VOC gases in wildfires, two filters are needed. One HEPA filter to remove out the ultra-fine particles, the other a carbon filter to filter out the VOC gases. Both filters can fit on one purifier.
Bottom Line: How Can Your Protect Yourself Against Wildfire Smoke?
1) Stay indoors, where air pollution is typically 30-40% lower.
2) Wear masks to filter out the ultra-fine particles (preferably N95, but surgical masks still have use)
3) Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove ultra-fine particles and a carbon filter to remove dangerous VOCs.
Along with wearing masks, air purifiers with HEPA filters are also one of the best ways to stay safe from a variety of pollutants in our air including viruses and dangerous PM2.5. A recent CDC study confirmed significantly lower COVID-19 infection rates in schools that used HEPA air purifiers. HEPA filters can significantly lower the risk of a variety of deadly diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Read More: Four Steps to Choosing the Best Air Purifier
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