Should you happen to live in an area prone to wildfires, then you will know that contamination caused by these fires will easily invade your living areas and can be darn right hard to get rid of.
What harmful toxins are there in wildfire smoke?
The fumes being expelled into the atmosphere comprise of different types of organic chemical compounds such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and varieties of other minerals. What is being incinerated also plays a role in the type of toxic substances being expelled into the atmosphere due to the fact that VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) are also expelled into the atmosphere. Examples can be benzene and formaldehyde.
The heaviness of the particulate matter or the broadness is also a key factor in the process of affecting one’s lungs. Substances larger than ten 10 microns are able to inflame responsive membranes like the eyes, throat and nose. However these larger particles are usually too big to be inhaled into the lungs.
Substances with smaller sizes, down to 2.5 microns are referred to as “fine particles”. The ones on and above 2.5 to 10 microns are referred to as “coarse particles”. The typical constituents of particles present in wildfire are known to be fine particles because they are smaller than 2.5 microns in size.
Most wildfire particles are smaller than 2.5 microns in size, and are easily breathed into the lungs where they can start to cause havoc.
How wild fire smoke affects you
A relatively small amount of exposure to the fumes of wildfire content may result in extreme harm to the soft membranes of the nose, mouth, throat and particularly the lungs. Individuals who are allergic to wildfire smoke or have asthma are readily affected by these contaminants and can have severe reactions. Due to the Impaired oxygen supply, people with heart issues may have big problems too.
Even if you are in fine health and don’t have any underlying health issues that will make smoke inhalation severe, the compounds contained in the smoke are by nature irritants. These irritants will continue to rub raw the soft internal membranes of your mouth, nose and lungs.
Concealing yourself in your place of residence will do little to stop the contaminated air getting in and If your exposure to the toxic smoke is prolonged over a longer period of time, then you’re at greater risk of the fine particles causing long term damage to your lungs.
How can I save my heart and lungs?
Getting a mask for wildfire smoke will go some way to help, especially when the wildfire is in full effect and smoke is everywhere. You can use these smoke masks in the home, but also when you go out. Just make sure you follow the guidelines and only use the individual mask for as long as the manufacturer says they will last for.
If you don’t have immediate access to a smoke mask, then placing a wet cloth on your nostrils can help minimize the intake of the particulate content.
Making sure your windows and doors are all sealed as tight as possible will help, but sadly won’t stop the smoke from entering your home – just slow it down and possibly keep most from entering.
There are other ways to help remove the odor of wildfires, but there is one method that’s above and beyond any cheap hack and that’s to buy an air purifier.
How can an air purifier help with wildfires?
Buying an air cleaner is perhaps the most efficient way to deal with wildfire particles. These days makers of air filters are able to specifically target different airborne toxins such as pet dander or allergens. Likewise there are also devices that are designed to deal with smoke and wildfires. I highly suggest you visit our page on the subject, where we try to work out which is the best air purifier for wildfire smoke.
When purchasing an air purifier for wild fire smoke, it’s most important to make sure it comes with the top grade of HEPA filter. Avoid devices that say they come with Hepa ‘like’ or Hepa ‘style’ filters as they are poor imitations and won’t perform the job to the same degree as a fully tested and clinically proven HEPA filter.
Also important in an air purifier for fire smoke is the pre-filter. The pre filter is specifically designed to trap big particles and keep them away from the HEPA filter in order to make sure it doesn’t get obstructed – thus making sure the HEPA filter is working at maximum efficiency for as long as possible.
Finally, choosing a machine that comes with a carbon filter will really help in cutting out the odor that comes with wildfire smoke. There are a few other filters that perform a similar job to the carbon filter, but you should check out our full run down on smoke filters to learn about those.