Breathing wildfire smoke is bad for you. This smoke is particularly bad for you and can cause coughing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and other immediate effects, even in healthy people. It can also aggravate chronic heart and lung conditions, increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, damage vital organs and shorten a person’s lifespan.
Table of Contents
Why is wildfire smoke so bad for us?
-Wildfire smoke is made up mainly of microscopic particulate matter 30 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair.
-The particles are made up of things like acids, chemicals, metals, soil and dust from whatever the fire is burning – including vegetation, buildings and vehicles.
-When inhaled, they can go deep inside the lungs and bloodstream.
-Research has shown smoke from wildfires is 10 times more hazardous to humans than similar pollution from other sources.
-The CDC says breathing in wildfire smoke can cause coughing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and other immediate effects, even in healthy people.
-It can also aggravate chronic heart and lung conditions, increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, damage vital organs and shorten a person’s lifespan.
Tracking smoke on maps
PurpleAir – see the PM2.5 sensor readings in your area, updated every 10 minutes
FireSmoke.ca – forecast of the conditions in the coming hours and days firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current
AirNow.gov – from the EPA and partners – color coding areas by US AQI (Air Quality Index) www.airnow.gov
IQAir Air quality map – shows air quality, station readings, fires, and wind
Wear Respirators, outside especially – N95 or better, elastomerics are great
In this section Masks Kid's Masks Elastomeric Respirators
Use HEPA filters indoors (with carbon preferred)
Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters
Levoit Core 400s
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, Smart WiFi and PM2.5 Monitor H13 True HEPA Filter Removes Up to 99.97% of Particles, Pet Allergies, Smoke (with carbon)
How to choose an air filter
See our HEPA filter buying guide page for more.
CRBoxes – build a DIY air cleaner with simple parts.
CorsiRosenthal Box DIY Air Filter build plan – printable
DIY Air Filter – CRBox Parts list
will all work
Box fan (20inch)
Any 20 inch box fan will work, lasko is one of the better tested models
Duct tape or packing tape
Duct tape comes in many colors, packing tape is clear. Both work well.
Reduce smoky odor
Carbon prefilter (optional)
You can add an additional carbon layer for smoky odor reduction. Add this layer over the top (outside) of the MERV13 filters.
Alternate build with single carbon filter
Single thicker filter
Alternatively, you can use a single 20x20x5 filter with MERV13+ (This one is MERV16) with bonus carbon for odor reduction. Always focus on MERV rating first to remove particulate from the air. You tape this filter flush to the back of the box fan, air flow arrow pointing into the back of the fan (intake).
Portable Rechargeable filters for your vehicle
Check out this rechargeable battery powered DIY air filter build that uses a camping fan and round HEPA filter. It works very well for clearing the air in a small space like a car or van, or just to keep nearby to supply cleaner air in any space.
If you are running activated carbon or similar air cleaners for odors and chemicals, using them at low speeds gives the air longer residence time so more effective at absorbing the stuff. So, preferably 2 of them at low speed than one at peak speed. This would also reduce sound levels.
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