Air Purifiers and Wildfire Smoke

 

Wildfire smoke is a severe environmental and air quality issue that has plagued many regions in the U.S, especially the West Coast for years.  The resultant smoke, dangerous gases affect those living nearby, as well as those living further away as the smoke blankets the sky and causes poor air quality even in regions far away from wildfires.  If you are struggling with difficulty breathing, itchy eyes, or just general discomfort from wildfire smoke, the right air purifier can provide great relief.

The Effects of Exposure to Wildfire Smoke

Wildfire smoke has the ability to travel far distances, which means you don’t have to be near a fire to be exposed to pollutants. These pollutants are carbon monoxide, volatile organic carbon (including benzo(a)pyren, Benzene and formaldehyde) nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other particles(1-4). Wild fire smoke with its army of pollutants can cause serious health concerns.

But as soon as the fire reaches the “wildland urban interface”, other toxic chemicals are released due to burning of industrial and household goods.  It is worth noting that smoke composition will vary; it will not  only be an entire  mixture of abovementioned elements and gases, other elements and gases like ozone, organic aerosol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and substances obtained from fuel burning will join this life threating smoke (5, 6).

These billions of particles remain suspended in the air and can drift for miles. Hence when a person breathes in smoke-filled air, these particles penetrate the lungs, making it difficult for him/her to breathe.  The situation is even worse when a person is already suffering from a breathing disorder like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dyspnea, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and allergies; his or her breathing difficulties are exacerbated.

Research has demonstrated that individuals affected by wildfire smoke shows symptoms of upper respiratory infection such as sore throat, sneezing, cough, runny nose and itchy and lower respiratory symptoms like wheezing(7).

Harmful effects are not limited to the people’s lungs; wild fire smoke causes extensive damage to the body, resulting in higher mortality rates. Wildfire smoke can cause headaches, ADHD and autism in children, and increases the risk of cardiovascular events even in adults (2, 8). In these circumstances, hospitals are often filled with people affected with breathing difficulty as well as those suffering from the systemic effects of wildfire smoke on their bodies.

 

Tips For Relief From Wildfire Smoke

Keep your windows and doors locked. However, smoke can penetrate through gaps in the walls but keeping doors shut can slow down the passage of smoke into your home or room. 

  • Laundries and the bathrooms are the major culprits in air leakage due to fixed ducts and ventilation system, so shut your laundry and bathroom doors tightly.
  • Place dry or wet towels at the bottom of doors can help to prevent diffusion of smoke into your room.
  • You can place rubber or foam objects to seal off windows.
  • Use vacuum cleaners to eradicate lingering smoke in your house
  • Wipe off furniture surfaces too because particulates settle on furniture.
  • Air conditioners can help filter some particles, although their filters only catch dust and large particles.
  • Remove additional indoor smoke sources. Stop cigarette smoking, minimize smoke when boiling and frying on wood burning furnaces and stoves.

 

Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke

It takes the right air purification system to balance consistent exposure to wildfire smoke. Residents in areas that are prone to wildfires often struggle with waiting for the smoke to pass through an area so that they can enjoy the fresh air. A standard air purifier might offer some relief from wildfire smoke, but an air purifier that has been designed for it can be particularly beneficial.

 

How Can an Air Purifier Help?

An air purifier can provide additional relief from coughing, teary eyes and difficulty breathing from wildfire smoke and pollution. It cleanses indoor air in multiple stages:

  • It contains a pre-filter that eliminates macro particles, such as dust and pollen
  • The high efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter filters out 97% of fine airborne particles
  • The deep-bed activated carbon filter adsorbs airborne odor, gases and chemicals.
  • These filters trap and attract chemicals like formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds and benzene via their tiny fissures and pores.
  • Activated carbon has a large surface area of activated carbon which allows for the complete removal of gases and chemicals. In contrast, other filters without carbon, or with a small carbon filter, do not allow a large number of pollutants to be trapped, resulting in poor filtration because the carbon is saturated quickly with pollutants.
  • Similarly, an activated carbon sponge surface is able to absorb more chemical compounds and gases. The capacity of the sponge is highly depending upon sponge depth and size.
  • Hence the absorbing power of an air purifier depends upon the activated carbon surface and depth.

 

The Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke

Our recommendations include several air purifiers custom-designed to address the toxic fumes, extensive debris, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide found in wildfire smoke. Click on the title of the product to learn more:


AllerAir Air Medic Pro 5 HDS – Smoke Eater

This air purifier is called a “smoke eater” because of its unique ability to free air from wildfire smoke chemicals and odor. Whether you are living next door to someone who smokes excessively or you are seeing constant wildfires in your area, this air purifier is ready to help to make air clearer than ever, even in the times of severe difficulties.

Smoke and bad odors are a serious matter of concern, Pro 5 HDS – Smoke Eater has the capability to remove smoke and Bad odor in open areas of home like lounge, wide rooms.

  • The Air Medic Pro 5 HDS - Smoke Eater was made to cover roughly 1500 square feet, making it effective at cleaning the air for home and as well as working environment.
  • Tar-trapping pre-filter to remove sticky tar particles found in smoke and protect the main filters from clogging
  • It features multiple high-quality filters effectively removes airborne allergens like insect waste, chemicals, pet dander, pollen, germs, and odors.
  • This model features a ‘’3.5 inches deep carbon bed’’, with rapid effective absorbing power and ultra-filters critical to remove toxic chemical substances found in smoke such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.
  • Super HEPA filtration for fine airborne particles that removes 99.99% of airborne particles 0.1 microns in size and above
  • It also offers unique UV light customization that enables it to purify germs, viruses, and spores so that the air in your home or business is always safe to breathe.
  • Its metal design is easier to clean and disinfect while mostly air purifiers are made up of plastic and cannot be disinfected easily.

  

AllerAir Air Medic Pro 5 Ultra S – Smoke Eater
  • The Air Medic Pro 5 S – Smoke Eater is the stronger and more durable version of the Air Medic Pro 5. It has everything that the Air Medic Pro 5 HDS – Smoke Eater has to offer. It is an effective solution for tobacco, cigars contaminants and highly advantageous for removing wildfire smoke.
  • It features a tar trapping pre-filter to remove sticky tar particles and protect the main filters from clogging
  • Built with a more powerful carbon filter: five inches of activated carbon effectively filters heavily polluted areas filled with smoke and dangerous chemicals in the air.
  • Super HEPA filtration for fine airborne particles (removes 99.99% of particles 0.1 microns and larger)
  • Optional UV filter
  • Ideal for lounges and other open home and working areas.
 
AllerAir Air Medic Pro 6 HDS – Smoke Eater

Another high quality air purification system from the Air Medic line, the Air Medic Pro 6 HDS – Smoke Eater model covers a larger area up to 1800 square feet, compared to previous AirMedic Pro5 models. This incredible machine brings together a HEPA filter with three and a half inches of a deep carbon filter that are specially designed to target smoke. With this powerful air purifier, you can keep air, up to 1800 square feet clean and chemical-free. It features:

  • Tar-trapping pre-filter to remove sticky tar particles and protect the main filters from clogging
  • 3.5” activated carbon filter for second-hand smoke, chemicals, fumes and odors, taller unit body than the Pro 5 Series to accommodate more carbon 
  • Super HEPA filtration for fine airborne particles
  • Optional UV filter
  • Ideal for lounges and other open home and working areas.
  • Specifically built for areas where smoking and odor is a major concern
 
 
AllerAir Air Medic Pro 6 Ultra S - Smoke Eater

The AllerAir AirMedic Pro6 Ultra S – Smoke Eater is the most powerful machine among the AllerAir Series built for heavy smoke, and covers a larger area of 1800 square feet, compared to the Pro5 series. It offers the same tar trapping technology, as well as five inches deep carbon filter, to cleanse the air of any smoke. Even if you are close to a wildfire, this is the device that can cleanse the air quickly to keep your family safe. It features:

  • An industry-leading 5” carbon filter for second-hand smoke, chemicals, fumes and odors, taller unit body than the Pro 5 Series to accommodate more carbon.
  • Tar-trapping pre-filter to remove sticky tar particles and protect the main filters from clogging
  • Super HEPA filtration for fine airborne particles
  • Optional UV filter
  • A solution for every kind of smoking issue like smoke arising from wood stove, wildfire some, smoke coming from burning of tobacco and cigar
  • Ideal for large spaces and rooms
 
 
AirPura V600

Air Pura is an air purifier company in Canada well known for its sophisticated carbon blends, and trusted by many customers for relief from wildfire and volcano smoke.  Its high quality air purifiers are trusted by leading hospitals as well.  This AirPura model features a unique and robust carbon that contains potassium iodide, which is custom designed to offer protection against wildfire smoke, chemicals and gases.

 
In addition to their system’s targeted approach to clearing out wildfire smoke, the V600 offers long-lasting filters to keep your air in good order without any constant need to replace these filters. This is a great money-saving option and is made even better by the enhanced premium quality activated two-inch carbon filter. It features:

  • 8-lb enhanced carbon filter adsorbs most common VOC's and harmful, airborne chemicals and pollutants.
  • The powerful HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne particles, as small as 0.3 microns.
  • Ideal for workplaces and homes
  • Recommended for places with poor outdoor air quality
  • Highly effective against wildfire smoke
  • Effective against bad odors, pet dander, purifies air from thousands of harmful chemicals released from products like paints, fuels, ammonia, vinyl, pesticides and PVC.
 
 
Austin Air Healthmate Plus

 Austin Air is an American brand that has been trusted for more than 30 years by consumers, the Red Cross, US government agencies (FEMA) as well as leading healthcare institutions such as Johns Hopkins University. With its emphasis on high quality, durable machines, it is not uncommon for many consumers to keep their Austin Air purifier for 5 or even 10+ years.

The Austin Air Healthmate features robust and powerful filters for smoke and volatile organic compounds, and reduces coughing and wheezing in individuals. In addition, it features a heavy-duty HEPA filter to remove particles and debris.  If you have trouble with breathing due to inhaling smoke arising from wood fires, wildfires, formaldehyde usage or paint, this air purifier can provide relief. It effectively absorbs noxious gases pollutants and harmful chemicals.

It features:

  • Large Particle Pre-filter.
  • Medium Particle Pre-filter.
  • Over 780 cubic inches of Activated Carbon, Potassium Iodide Impregnated Carbon and Zeolite. Removes Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, benzenes, chemicals, gases and odors.
  • True Medical Grade HEPA. Removes 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns and 95% of all particles larger than 0.1 microns
  • Ideal for Indoor environments at home or at work.
  • “Advanced four-layer filter with additional activated carbon, potassium and zeolite this heavy-duty air purifier, has been recommended to filter particles from wildfire smoke dust, volatile organic compounds and pollen.
  • Reduces nausea and headaches as a result of smoke and chemical exposure, due to its exceptional capacity to remove volatile organic compounds like chemicals from cleaning agents, stoves and fireplaces fuel.
  • This long-life HEPA filter lasts for five years, saving you from money and time trouble from frequent filter changes.
  • Reduces the occurrence of night time allergies and asthma attacks
  • Reduces snoring and minimizes the complains of runny nose and dry mouth.
 
Enviroklenz Mobile Air System

Many customers have found relief from smoky air caused by wildfires particularly in the West Coast when using the Enviroklenz Mobile UV Air System. Made in the USA, this brand offers users a military-grade carbon filter and effectively removes chemicals from the air. With its dependable HEPA filters, you can breathe with peace and ease knowing that your air purifier is working. It features:

  • Includes original military grade with proprietary technology especially designed for decontamination of chemical warfare which can remove stubborn compounds like noxious gases, volatile organic compounds and painting fumes because it combines chemical neutralization processes and particulate removal while other purifiers only remove particulates.
  • Covers an area of 1000 square feet.
  • HEPA filtration- captures 99.97% of all particles such as dust, debris from wildfire smoke 0.3 microns and larger in size.
  • Recommended for people suffering from asthma, allergies and for people who are frequently exposed to smoke from cigarettes, cigars and noxious gases
  • Reduces the risk of long-term respiratory illness from inhaling particles from smoke
  • Portable - can be moved from one room to another (on the same floor) easily.
  • Easy to use
  • “A quiet four speed bowler” suggested for silent operation, it is almost noise free

 


 References:

  1. Voulgarakis A, Field RD. Fire influences on atmospheric composition, air quality and climate. Current Pollution Reports. 2015;1(2):70-81.
  2. Oliveira M, Slezakova K, Delerue-Matos C, Pereira MC, Morais S. Children environmental exposure to particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and biomonitoring in school environments: A review on indoor and outdoor exposure levels, major sources and health impacts. Environ Int. 2019;124:180-204.
  3. Montero-Montoya R, López-Vargas R, Arellano-Aguilar O. Volatile Organic Compounds in Air: Sources, Distribution, Exposure and Associated Illnesses in Children. Ann Glob Health. 2018;84(2):225-38.
  4. Na K, Cocker DR. Fine organic particle, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde concentrations under and after the influence of fire activity in the atmosphere of Riverside, California. Environmental research. 2008;108(1):7-14.
  5. Jaffe DA, Wigder NL. Ozone production from wildfires: A critical review. Atmospheric Environment. 2012;51:1-10.
  6. Brey SJ, Fischer EV. Smoke in the city: how often and where does smoke impact summertime ozone in the United States? Environmental science & technology. 2016;50(3):1288-94.
  7. Künzli N, Avol E, Wu J, Gauderman WJ, Rappaport E, Millstein J, et al. Health effects of the 2003 Southern California wildfires on children. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2006;174(11):1221-8.
  8. Suades-González E, Gascon M, Guxens M, Sunyer J. Air pollution and neuropsychological development: a review of the latest evidence. Endocrinology. 2015;156(10):3473-82.

 

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