An indoor air filter can be a real help when forest fire smoke is in the air. You don’t have to be close to the fire to smell the smoke and feel the effects of the particulates. We realized this last year when smoke from a fire in New Mexico at least 200 miles away filled our area, and our lungs, for several days. As a result, we got an air filter for the house.
This morning we woke up to a view of hazy mountains, due to another distant forest fire:
Actually, I knew there had to be smoke before I even opened my puffy eyes and tried to take a deep breath through my stuffed up nose! There had to be air particles gumming up the works.
So right away we turned on our portable air filter. We keep it in our living room, on top of the large dog crate that is tucked into a corner. It’s a bit further away from the wall than it looks here. You can see that an amber light is on in the upper right. Sign of the filter cleaning the air from the forest fire? No, I must admit it’s been green lights all morning except when I had the propane stovetop on, which is when I took that picture! And so it was interesting to read at the CDC site that gas stoves can contribute to air pollution indoors… see the quote further down.
So how do you chose an air filter to help with your indoor air quality? Forest fire or not, it’s a good idea to have one if you have allergies to air particulates, as I do. The EPA says, “Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.” I had noticed that HEPA filters are recommended for fire air pollution, and the EPA article further explains that mechanical air filters remove particles by capturing them on filter materials. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are in this category.
When we bought our air filter last year, we did get a HEPA unit. We chose to get one that could be moved around our small house if needed, rather than getting into a more expensive whole-house system. Our house is about 1200 square feet, and the 22-pound Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner Model (Amazon link; that’s where we got ours) has done well. Its specs say it can clean up to 350 square feet, which is not quite the size of our large area consisting of kitchen, dining alcove, and living room, with my office carved out of the living room too. We have thought that we could take it into the bedroom at night if need be, but we haven’t done that so far.
For futher exploration, here is a link to a search I did for HEPA air on Amazon. I did it that way because I could see that people search both for air filters and air purifiers, and this catches both. There are surprisingly low cost ones.
The Center for Disease Control has a page of tips relating to forest fire smoke. Here’s a pertinent bit and you can read it all by clicking on the link:
Last year, I thought I might have to go away for a while, but now I am more confident that with smoke from distant forest fires a summertime fact of life in the dry American west, I will most likely be fine at home with the air filter running, and that is a relief.