Air purifiers are key to protecting yourself from wildfire smoke in your home. But with the number of purifiers on the market, it can be confusing to know which are the best air purifiers for wildfire smoke. In this article, we dive into what to look for when buying an air purifier for wildfire smoke, as well as what to avoid.
What Pollutants Are in Wildfire Smoke?
To determine which air purifiers are best for removing wildfire smoke from your home, we need to first know what pollutants the purifier needs to remove.
It turns out, wildfire smoke is made up of both dangerous small particulates called PM2.5 and VOC gases.
Both PM2.5 and VOC gases are harmful to humans. Small particulates in wildfire smoke such as PM2.5 can enter our bloodstream, get into our organs, and even cause cancer. VOC gases in wildfires include ethane, aldehydes, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, which can have similar devastating effects on our bodies.
Watch: Five Things You Should Know About PM2.5 Pollution in Wildfire Smoke
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So what air purifier setup is best to remove these wildfire smoke pollutants?
Two Features Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke Need
No one filter is able to effectively remove both small particulates and dangerous gases from the air. Therefore, the best purifiers for wildfire smoke use a combination of two air filters: a HEPA filter and a carbon filter.
1) HEPA Filter
HEPA filters take care of removing the small dangerous particulates such as PM2.5. HEPA filters remove over 99.5% of nearly all sized pollutants in one pass through the filter, including the smallest particles under 0.3 microns in size. Below is a room test we did with the Sqair air purifier with a HEPA filter. Within an hour all of the PM2.5 was removed from the air.
2) Carbon Filter
With the HEPA filter removing the dangerous particles from the wildfire smoke, what’s left are VOCs and other gases. This is where the carbon filter comes in. Carbon filters are extremely effective at removing VOCs and other gases that are in wildfire smoke. Below is a room test we did with an air purifier with a carbon filter. Within two minutes nearly all of the VOCs were removed from the air.
Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke: What to Avoid
1) Avoid Purifiers With Ionizers
Air purifiers with ionizers are ineffective at reducing both PM2.5 and VOC gases. In fact, research shows ionizers can increase air pollution by releasing ozone and creating formaldehyde and fine particles. Skip the ionizers.
2) Avoid Ozone Generators
The problem with ozone generators is they produce ozone, which harms and even kills people. Skip the ozone generator.
3) Avoid UV Lights
Some purifier companies put ultraviolet lights in purifiers because UV kills viruses and bacteria. This not only has no effect on wildfire smoke, but studies also show purifiers with UV lights don’t have enough time to kill the viruses and bacteria in the short time the air goes through the filter (according to the EPA). Skip the UV light.
How I Protect Myself From Wildfire Smoke
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The “Chemical Warefare” model of the Sqair air purifier comes with both a HEPA filter and a carbon filter. The Sqair is good for areas under 40 square meters (or two bedrooms).