October 28th, 2020 | Posted in General
While much of the world’s focus in 2020 has been on mitigating the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has also experienced a devastating wildfire season. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that, as of October 23, a total of 46,681 fires have burned 8,608,646 acres in 2020. That’s roughly 2.3 million acres above the 10-year-average (2010-2019) for the same time period. In the Rocky Mountain region and West Coast of the U.S., residents have experienced hazy skies as wildfire smoke fills the outdoor air. We know that this smoky outdoor air is dangerous to breathe, but do you know how wildfires affect indoor air quality? Read on to learn more about their effects and what you can do to manage them.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), smoke consists of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles created when organic materials (i.e. wood) are burned, with the fine particles posing the biggest health threat. These particles are microscopic in size and can get into your eyes and respiratory system and cause various health problems including:
The EPA also states that, in the most severe cases, fine particles are linked to premature death in people with chronic lung and heart conditions. And while not at a major risk from short-term smoke exposure, healthy individuals should still avoid breathing smoke whenever possible. Additional details on the health effects of smoke inhalation can be found on the EPA’s AirNow website.
Preventing wildfire smoke’s adverse health effects isn’t as simple as locking yourself up in the home. Outdoor air enters the home in a few different ways:
As the impact of wildfire smoke on indoor air quality will vary based on proximity to the fire and the smoke’s density, it’s crucial that you follow local news and emergency alerts. That being said, there are still steps you can take to prepare and protect your family, self, and home.
If you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires, or in a nearby region likely to experience high smoke levels, you must be proactive in maintaining your home’s air quality and recognizing the warning signs of smoke pollution.
While breathing wildfire smoke is dangerous for anyone to breathe, certain people are more susceptible to its negative effects:
As mentioned above, the fine particles of smoke can enter and affect your eyes and respiratory system, which is especially dangerous for individuals with chronic heart or lung diseases. Be aware of the potential symptoms of smoke pollution:
It’s a simple formula: Preventing exposure to wildfire smoke helps prevent its negative effects. Use these steps to keep smoke from decreasing indoor air quality during wildfires:
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires in the Western U.S., the last year has highlighted the importance of air quality like never before. As your clean air solution experts, AQE wants to help you understand how wildfires affect indoor air quality, as well as assist in following the EPA’s preparation and protection recommendations.
We provide innovative and effective air cleaner systems for a variety of applications, including residential and office, school, and business settings. For all your air quality needs, trust the customer-focused specialists at AQE.
Contact us to learn more.