Make your home a sanctuary this summer with these tips for pure, clean indoor air.
By Janine Frank
As we all know too well, wildfire season is upon us; it’s prudent to plan ahead for smoky days.
The gasses and microscopic particles in wildfire smoke can cause a range of undesirable symptoms, from petty annoyances like burning eyes, coughing and sore throat to more chronic conditions such as heart and lung damage.
Fortunately, you can maintain healthy indoor air even when the outdoor air quality index reaches into the red. If it’s a smoky day, take as many of these steps as possible to preserve your health and breathe easier while indoors.
Keep windows and doors closed and tightly sealed.
Identify and seal any gaps where smoky air could enter your home with caulking and weather-stripping. Hiring a professional to conduct an energy assessment is the best way to identify leaky areas.
Run your air conditioner.
Be sure that your air conditioner’s filter is clean and changed regularly. If your unit has a fresh-air intake, close it until conditions improve.
Avoid using anything that burns.
Refrain from using wood and gas fireplaces, smoking cigarettes, or burning candles or incense indoors. Try to keep your use of gas stoves and ovens as minimal as possible. These all increase particle levels in your home.
Keep bathroom fans and any window fans turned off.
Fans bring unhealthy outside air into the home.
Skip the vacuuming.
Vacuuming stirs up particulates, so it’s best to avoid it unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter. You can resume vacuuming once the outdoor air quality has improved.
Run one or more air purifiers.
Constantly running air purifiers until the air clears up is one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality. The most effective purifiers against wildfire smoke contain both High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and carbon filters. HEPA filters remove harmful particulates, and carbon filters remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause odors.
Choosing a Purifier
There are purifiers on the market for every size room and every budget. Costs vary based on the size of the space the purifier cleans, how fast it cleans that space and various user-interface features.
When purchasing, also consider the cost of replacement filters and how frequently you’ll need to change them. Some highly recommended purifiers at varying price points are listed below.
Austin Healthmate Plus: ~$850
Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier and Tower Fan: ~$550
Blueair Blue Pure 211+: ~$300
Coway AP-1512 HH Mighty: ~$200
Levoit H13 True HEPA: ~$100