The Western wildfire season of 2021 is in full swing, and residents of affected states are battling the risky conditions associated with this natural disaster. Even when active wildfires are controlled to the point where evacuations aren’t necessary, these hazardous flames still create serious health concerns to everyone in the surrounding area that oftentimes are very hard to avoid. What may be surprising is that your home isn’t always the safest escape from wildfires, as smoke could be seeping into your living space without you realizing it. Knowing how to prevent wildfire smoke from entering your home can be a vital step in your effort to provide protection to yourself and your family, and it may teach you a thing or two about the importance of proper indoor air quality.
Find out how wildfire smoke could be sneaking into your home this season, and what steps you can take to limit this indoor air pollutant from affecting your household.
Wildfire’s Effect on Air Quality
Wildfire smoke is no joke. This thick, cloudy byproduct of wildfires is a combination of gases and fine particulate matter that are not only unhealthy for the environment, but especially dangerous to our lungs.
There are two main concerns with the byproduct of wildfires – particulates and chemicals. Particulates released into the air from a forest fire include ash, smoke dust, and allergens. These tiny particles range from 10 micrometers to less than 2.5 micrometer, which means some of these fine particles are invisible to the eye. It can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, as well as get lodged into your lungs and even blood stream when breathed in, causing irritation and serious health concerns. On the other end, many people are unaware that chemicals are also released from burning wildfires. Formaldehyde and carbon monoxide are among the two main chemicals released. Formaldehyde is found from natural environmental processes like forest fires, but it can also be produced from the burning of building materials and insulation that might cross paths with a wildfire; high exposure to formaldehyde is known to cause cancer, and it is identified as a toxic air contaminant. Excessive carbon monoxide exposure through wildfire smoke can cause damage to your respiratory system, worsen heart and lung diseases, and prompt long-term health effects. This is especially a concern for firefighters working in close contact with this smoke for extended periods of time.
It is clear to see how wildfire smoke intensely affects the outdoor air quality, as the visual smoke and ash, as well as the smell and respiratory irritation from breathing in this air, are all obvious signs of its impact. However, indoor air quality after a fire is just as important to pay attention to, as wildfire smoke is considered an indoor air pollutant and can contribute to your risk of smoke inhalation even when you are inside your home or a public facility. The question is, how is this smoke getting inside a seemingly safe house, and how can you get rid of it?
Ways That Wildfire Smoke Can Enter Your Home
Smoke can seep into your house in more ways than you think. What seems like a well-sealed home could actually have hidden spots where it’s not fully closed off, or you could also be doing typical home activities that contribute to outdoor air letting itself in. Check out a few common sources of outdoor air leakage.
Windows & Doors
Anytime windows and doors are open, they are letting in outdoor air and all of its pollutants inside your home. You may say keeping these closed is a simple solution, but windows and doors can usually still let in a good amount of smoke when shut, even if you think your well-sealed openings are leak-free.
If you have a fireplace in your home, the damper at its top is your main protection from outdoor exposure. You may want to have your top damper checked by a professional before wildfire season, as the quality of this closing’s seal could determine how much smoke could enter your home through this source. This is your best bet on how to keep wildfire smoke from coming into the house through a fireplace.
Basements can often be less sealed compared to the rest of the house, and this problem could affect the entire home’s air quality if your air conditioning is circulating air from all spaces in the house. This is something to keep in mind when checking for leakage locations of outdoor air.
In kitchens and bathrooms, your exhaust fans could be doing the opposite of what you think they are doing. Rather than simply sucking up bad air and filtering it out, these type of fans throughout the home could actually be sucking bad air into the home from small cracks and crevices that aren’t well-sealed. This is grabbing polluted air from outdoors, and it isn’t guaranteed that your exhaust fan will pull it back out depending on how long you use it for. Avoid the use of these when you can.
Filtering Out Wildfire Smoke
Now that we know where the smokey issue is coming from, it is good to understand how well we can filter out the smoke and put a halt to its risks. It is common to wonder if air conditioners filter wildfire smoke, and to what degree. The way that AC units operate presents problem for outdoor air exposure, as certain settings on these systems can pull outdoor air into indoor spaces or recirculate polluted air instead of purifying it through filtration. To get more detail on how to utilize your AC unit safely during wildfire season, check out EnviroKlenz’s article on Do Air Conditioners Filter Wildfire Smoke, and see if your air conditioning habits are contributing to the amount of wildfire smoke and particulate matter in your home.
If you now wonder how to purify indoor air from wildfire smoke, a good alternative to HVAC systems is the added benefits of a portable air purifier, which can help pick up the slack of an air conditioner for filtering out wildfire smoke. An air purifier is able to capture and remove particulates of smoke and ash rather than recirculating them throughout your indoor air, and air purifiers even help eliminate smoke smells from wildfires. The EnviroKlenz Air System is capable of tackling wildfire smoke particulates with its double filtration system, combining its patented air cartridge and a HEPA filter to thoroughly filter out airborne pollutants. Its patented earth mineral technology is also completely non-toxic and is able to trap the harmful gases of wildfire smoke without releasing any toxins back into the air. Safe for homes, the Air System is a highly efficient option that not only takes away apparent smoke smells of the Western region, but takes care of the invisible particulate threats that are harmful to your health.
Creating Healthy Indoor Air: Solutions for a Smoke-Free House
It’s of large importance to the health of everyone in your home to keep this indoor space as safe as possible during wildfires. If outdoor conditions are severe and you are advised to stay inside, the EPA recommends creating a clean room to spend as much time as you can in. Setting up a clean room isn’t too hard, and it can really impact your avoidance of smoke exposure and inhalation.
- Choose the right room: pick a large enough room to best fit your household members. A central room with minimal windows and doors is most ideal.
- Prevent smoke from coming in: seal off windows and doors with damp rags or painter’s tape to create a tightly sealed space. Avoid using exhaust fans in this area of the house.
- Stay cool: use fans and HVAC units to pump cool air into this space, but turn off all ‘fresh air’ settings to avoid outside filtration.
- Filter the air: this is where a portable air purifier would come in handy. To create the highest level of filtration, air purifiers like EnviroKlenz’s Air System can capture and destroy any smoke particulates to offer fresh air for your family to breathe.
- Avoid activities that cause indoor air pollution: try not to add any more pollution into the air of your clean room by avoiding the use of candles, room sprays, aerosols, and even excessive cooking if possible. This will ensure the best condition for your clean room.
Clean rooms are a best practice for achieving a smoke-free environment in your home, however many of these steps can be applied to the rest of your home for your best chance of keeping smoke out. Try sealing all of your windows and doors with the painter’s tape or damp rag methods, practice minimal use of exhaust fans or outdoor ventilation, avoid added air pollution indoors, and even consider an air purifier for your whole home. These steps are valuable to your health, as negative effects of smoke inhalation can be dangerous and long-term. Help make your home a safer place to take shelter in during this hazardous season, and breathe a little easier knowing that these tips and tricks could be improving your chances of staying healthy and safe in the midst of future wildfires.
UV Mobile Air System
✓ Patented earth mineral technology works to attack VOCs and break them down on a compound level
✓ No chemicals or masking agents
✓ Will not release any chemicals back into your environment
✓ UVC lamps are continuously shining on the collected organisms with high effeciency of kill and destruction
EnviroKlenz® Medical Disclaimer:
“Any information that is provided on this website is not for the use by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog author. The material and statements illustrated within this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or medical conditions. Nor does the author in any way guarantee or validate the validity, totality, or efficacy of any claims and will therefore not be held responsible for the content of any claims. Always consult your medical physician for any specific medical advice or recommendations.”