Where there’s smoke, there are bound to be health risks. Wildfire smoke contains multiple noxious air pollutants, from cancer-causing substances to small particles that are easily inhaled into the lungs and can aggravate existing health problems.
While breathing outside air in smoke-affected areas is the most dangerous, some smoke particulate matter (PM) migrates inside. That’s when it becomes an issue for facilities and homeowners – especially since many HVAC systems are not designed for filtering out the finest smoke particles.
Smoke particles are typically 2.5 microns (PM2.5) or even smaller - able to get deep into the lungs and sometimes directly into the bloodstream. Scientific research has found a clear association between breathing PM2.5 smoke particles and heart and lung health effects, so facility managers must be ready to help protect building occupants and workers.
How to Prepare for Wildfire Smoke
The “Smoke Readiness Plan” from ASHRAE (formerly the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) recommends as step #1: Purchase portable air cleaners and extra filters.
Sounds easy, given the proliferation of air purifiers available – but not all air scrubbers and filters are efficient enough. To qualify as “HEPA,” air purifiers only need to remove 99.97% of particles down to .3 microns in size. Given smoke particles’ tiny size, that’s not efficient enough!
For effective wildfire smoke removal, portable HEPA air scrubbers must remove PM2.5 – and smaller. Independent testing has demonstrated that both the Dri-Eaz HEPA 700 and MediClean AP 700 air scrubbers exceed HEPA, removing 99.99% of .1-.25 micron particles. And independent testing is key, as you can’t be sure that self-reported manufacturer specifications are accurate.
Make sure to use the same primary HEPA filters used in independent testing, not knock-off filters that may be less expensive but not provide the same level of filtration needed to protect building occupants.
Advances in synthetic media technology have produced the best performing and the most durable HEPA filters, offering better airflow (less pressure drop) than fiberglass media, plus less chance of damage during transport or installation. That’s why genuine Dri-Eaz synthetic HEPA filters are recommended for the Dri-Eaz HEPA 700 and Mediclean AP 700.
Besides removing smoke, you also need to eliminate nasty odors, which you can remove by installing an activated carbon filter in your portable HEPA unit. Not all carbon filters are equal – each Mediclean AP 700 or HEPA 700 Activated Carbon Filter contains 2.5 pounds of carbon pellets to provide more than 1 million square yards of surface to adsorb noxious odors - that's twice the effectiveness of many other carbon filters. For more tips on removing odors using air scrubbers, search "ODORS" in the NEWS section of LegendBrands.com.
With longer wildfire seasons, heavy smoke more often affects homes and facilities – even in areas quite distant from fires. Be prepared with Dri-Eaz commercial HEPA air scrubbers – units that have been independently tested to demonstrate the highest efficiency for removing dangerous smoke particles and helping protect your workers and occupants.