It goes without saying that 2020 has been one wild year. On top of the current global pandemic, wildfires have been raging throughout the western half of the United States with above-average frequency and intensity. If the need for safer breathing was not dire enough already, it sure is now. This short article will briefly discuss the wildfire as well as how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from breathing in harmful particles such as smoke and debris using proper face mask protection and home filtration methods.
Since the start of the season in August, wildfires have been spreading across the U.S. with higher concentrations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Many have been instructed to evacuate and leave their homes and livelihoods behind. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), more than 8,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed in California alone, with 31 fatalities reported as of October 5th. Not only is the situation detrimental for states that are directly affected, but also for states that are nearby. With each new day, more photos are released from states that are indirectly affected by the smoke and ash transported hundreds of miles through the air. People have been instructed to stay inside and keep indoor air as clean as possible. However, many are left wondering how they can filter smoke when there is still a need to go into work each day or stock up on groceries, or get the mail.
In order to combat the wildfires, as well as COVID-19, people have been using face coverings such as bandanas, homemade cloth masks, and high-quality respirators such as the N95. Unfortunately, many of these masks do not filter enough of the harmful particles out of the air, allowing them to enter your airways and cause damage to your lungs. On the other hand, high-quality respirators and NIOSH approved masks are in short supply and should be reserved for medical personnel and health care professionals. Luckily, there are still other filtration options available that can help provide safer breathing, especially for those who have asthma or severely at-risk individuals.
While N95 respirators may not be readily available, there are still high-quality face masks and mask material that is able to filter out 95% of harmful particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Filti face masks and material are able to achieve this filtration efficiency by utilizing patent-pending, nanofiber technology while remaining lightweight and breathable. Click here to see how well Filti material filters out smoke particles from the air. While they are quite useful, face masks and N95 grade respirators are not able to capture everything, such as carbon monoxide and other harmful gas particles that are too small. You should still try to remain indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the outside world.
While inside, you are still not completely safe. There have been many reports from homeowners of poor indoor air quality in states that have been affected. But nobody wants to wear a mask all the time in the comfort of their own home. That is why it is important to invest in higher quality air filters for your HVAC system that can filter out fine particles and debris with a MERV rating of at least 13 or higher. See our other articles at filti.com for more information on the different types of HVAC filters and how they are rated.