• Outdoors Outdoors

Inhaling wildfire smoke is as bad for your health as smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day — here’s how to protect yourself

Composed of dangerous particulate matter, water vapor, and gaseous pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, wildfire smoke can cause respiratory distress.

HEPA filters to protect from wildfire smoke

With more than 400 wildfires burning across Canada and harmful wildfire smoke blanketing the eastern and central U.S., the health risks associated with smoke inhalation are impacting millions. 

Composed of dangerous particulate matter, water vapor, and gaseous pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, wildfire smoke can cause respiratory distress. It exacerbates pre-existing conditions like pre-asthma, asthma, and pulmonary disease and increases the risk of lung infections. 

According to a study from Stanford University, breathing in wildfire smoke, even if you are miles away from the source, can be equivalent to smoking nearly half a pack of cigarettes a day. And just like cigarettes, chronic exposure to wildfire smoke can lead to long-term health problems, including lung disease and cardiovascular issues.

If you’re affected by wildfire smoke, it’s crucial to protect your health, particularly your respiratory system, when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is high in your area. The best strategy is to stay indoors, but it’s important to ensure your indoor air quality is good. 

Air filters, specifically High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, are beneficial for reducing indoor air pollution. They are designed to capture over 99.97% of particles that are .3 microns or larger in diameter, which includes the tiny particulate matter found in wildfire smoke. 

Here are our picks for HEPA air filters that can protect you and your family from wildfire smoke: 

  1. Coway Airmega True HEPA Air Purifier – With a real-time air quality monitor and 4-stage HEPA filtration system, this air purifier can cover up to 361 square feet. 

  2. BLUEAIR HEPASilent Air Purifier – Removes particles as small as .1 microns and can quickly and silently clean a room as large as 388 square feet in 12 minutes. 

  3. Levoit True HEPA Air Purifier – This high-performance air purifier is ideal for larger spaces and can purify up to 1,095 square feet in one hour or a smaller space in 12 minutes. 

These filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh, trapping harmful particles such as dust, pollen, and pollutants in smoke, making the air in your home safer to breathe. 

While the use of indoor air purifiers will greatly improve the quality of the air you breathe, it should be combined with other strategies such as keeping the doors and windows closed, using air conditioners in recirculation mode, and reducing activities that can generate indoor air pollutants, such as smoking or using gas-powered appliances. 

Taking the proper precautions mentioned above, plus regular filter maintenance and replacement, will ensure a much healthier indoor air environment. 

Understanding the risks associated with wildfire smoke is more critical than ever. 

As global temperatures continue to rise – primarily from the planet-overheating pollution created when we burn dirty energy sources like coal, gas, and oil for fuel – we will experience more severe droughts and heat waves. 

These conditions create a tinderbox setting, making forests and other vegetation more prone to fires. The pollution caused by our reliance on dirty energy also disrupts rainfall patterns, further exacerbating the conditions that create more extreme wildfires. This forms a vicious cycle – more wildfires mean more smoke and carbon pollution, which, in turn, contribute to the overheating of our planet even more, thereby setting the stage for more extreme weather conditions and subsequent fires. 

If you live in an area prone to wildfires or areas affected by wildfire smoke, you should always be prepared with the right tools and strategies to protect your health. Indoor air filters offer a viable solution to protect your lungs when the AQI is high and can substantially improve your indoor air quality. 

Coupled with a broader climate strategy aimed at reducing our reliance on dirty energy, we can not only safeguard our health, but also work towards mitigating the effects of climate change and pollution. 

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider