Choosing the Best Air Purifier For Wildfire Smoke
Wildfires can be incredibly dangerous, destroying forests, homes, and lives. However, that devastation tends to overshadow another threat that is just as significant – the impact of wildfire smoke. Finding the best air purifier for wildfire smoke can help keep you and your family safe from the health risks associated with wildfire smoke.
The Impact of Wildfires
Wildfires are becoming an increasingly serious threat across the US and around the world. These destructive events are becoming more frequent, and individual fires are often much more severe than in years past.
The US sees around 60,000 to 70,000 distinct wildfires each year. Those fires destroy upward of 7 million acres every year, which is more than double the acreage affected during the average wildfire season in the 1990s.
The majority of land affected by wildfires is remote, but they still have an impact on populated areas. In 2022, more than 2,700 structures were destroyed by wildfires, 46% of which were homes.
Those are only the direct impacts of wildfires. The effects of wildfire smoke can be much more wide-ranging, making an air filter for smoke a prudent decision for homes, even if they’re very far from fire zones.
The 2023 Wildfire Season
Wildfires are a year-round concern, although there is a period of increased risk during the warmer months. Wildfire season is typically considered to run from May to October, with the most significant risk coming in August, the hottest time of year.
Unfortunately, 2023 is already turning out to be a year of increased wildfire activity. The province of Alberta in western Canada is currently undergoing some of the worst fires in its history. More than 100 distinct wildfires have led to the evacuation of over 24,000 people from their homes.
The wildfire outlook for the northwestern US and western Canada is the worst it’s been in years, with high-temperature records being set throughout the region. The massive heat wave has led to heat alerts for more than 20 million people. These high temperatures are affecting areas already known for their wildfire risk.
The 2023 wildfire season has just begun, and already it’s among the worst in recent years. If current trends continue, the 2023 season will be one of the largest yet, highlighting the growing importance of finding the best air purifier for wildfire smoke to protect you and your family.
The Spread of Wildfire Smoke
Wildfires can affect millions of acres, burning forests to the ground and devastating any communities that happen to be nearby. However, the spread of wildfire smoke is on another scale entirely. Lifted by air currents, wildfire smoke particles can spread around the entire world.
While the concentration of wildfire smoke dissipates as it spreads, it maintains noticeable levels and presents a health risk for hundreds or even thousands of miles. Wildfire smoke from western Canada is already affecting the US. In fact, effects were noticeable as far as Washington, DC, where elevated levels in the upper atmosphere caused a bright orange sunset.
The spread of wildfire smoke is caused by a wide range of factors. Wind speed and direction, weather, and terrain each play a part. This makes it practically impossible to predict where the smoke from any given wildfire is going to spread.
This puts nearly every home at potential risk from wildfire smoke. While your area may not be threatened by wildfires directly, you can still see a drop in air quality from a fire hundreds of miles away. Preparing your home with the right carbon filter for smoke is the best course of action you can take.
Health Risks Associated With Wildfire Smoke
Like other types of smoke, wildfire smoke presents a wide range of potential health risks. Inhaling the small particles and numerous chemical compounds found in smoke affects every system of your body.
At higher concentrations, wildfire smoke can cause immediate symptoms after only short-term exposure. Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing are common. You can also experience headaches and fatigue. Individuals with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma are at much greater risk.
Long-term exposure to even low levels of wildfire smoke can increase your risk of a variety of health conditions. Wildfire smoke can worsen chronic heart and lung diseases and increase the risk of a variety of respiratory complications. Ensuring that your air filtration keeps smoke particles out can help protect your family from these risks.
Do Air Purifiers Help With Smoke?
Wildfire smoke contains particles of many different sizes, but smaller particles are more likely to spread. This means that the most widespread risk comes from a category of contaminants called PM2.5, which have a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. That’s roughly one 10,000th of an inch.
This range of particles is much smaller than most of the contaminants found in household air. Dust, dander, pollen, and many other particles are generally larger than smoke particles. This means that your home’s current filtration setup might not be prepared for wildfire smoke.
Many common filters are only capable of capturing larger particles, with smoke passing right through. These are great for dealing with larger contaminants but aren’t suitable for dealing with wildfire smoke. If you’re in an area at high risk of wildfire smoke, you should consider upgrading to a filter that can capture those particles.
Choosing an Air Filter for Wildfire Smoke
When it does come time to upgrade your home’s current air filtration setup, the variety of choices can seem overwhelming. There are many solutions out there that claim to offer superior wildfire smoke protection, so how can you know which to choose?
Many such solutions can prove costly. Air purification equipment can do an excellent job at removing smoke particles but require a new major installation in your home. They also take more power to run and carry additional maintenance requirements.
Instead, you can address the risk of wildfire smoke with a time-tested solution that integrates into your existing HVAC system. Activated carbon air filters capture a wide range of contaminants, including minuscule particles from wildfire smoke.
The Benefits of a Carbon Filter for Smoke
An activated carbon filter can work in tandem with your HVAC system’s existing particle filter, providing additional protection against smaller particles. Together, they can protect your home from smoke, dust, dander, pollen, bacteria, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and more.
Activated carbon works through a process called adsorption, where contaminants are attracted to and attached to the surface of the carbon. This is different from particle filters, which simply have small holes that stop large particles but let air (and smaller particles) through.
This makes it possible for the activated carbon filter to capture particles of any size as long as they have an affinity for the surface of the filter. This includes many of the most harmful elements of wildfire smoke, including toxic VOCs that contribute to both immediate and long-term health risks.
While the mechanism to capture particles is different, installing a carbon filter is very similar to using a standard pleated air filter. They’re simply set in place like any other HVAC filter, with no additional maintenance requirements. They don’t need a replacement any more often than other filters and, in fact, usually last even longer.
Choosing the Right Air Filter for Your Needs
The right type of filter is vital to keeping you and your family healthy no matter the air quality outside your home. At Filter King, we provide a wide range of options, including HVAC filters for wildfire smoke. You can check out our carbon air filters and other filtration options to improve your indoor air quality today.