New York City recently set an unfortunate record in its books: the worst levels of air pollution due to wildfire smoke in modern history. As a bustling city that thrives on its vibrant energy, this poses a significant challenge to both its residents and infrastructures.
The concerning part? These records might not be anomalies but rather warnings of what’s to come. With rising global temperatures, instances of wildfires and subsequent air pollution events are anticipated to be more frequent. In light of this reality, understanding the implications of such pollution and knowing how to navigate these challenging times is crucial.
Smoke Signals from Afar
It's staggering to think that the smoke blanketing NYC came from wildfires as far as Canada. But it did, and with it, brought a myriad of health hazards.
Wildfire smoke is not just any ordinary smoke. It carries fine particles from burning trees, grasses, and other vegetation. According to the city’s official site, these particles are among the most harmful pollutants to human health.
To put things into perspective: on an average day, New York City witnesses around 35 micrograms of these fine particles per cubic meter of air. However, this alarming episode saw numbers spike to 160 micrograms early in the morning and shockingly to over 350 by evening, making NYC's air quality momentarily the worst in the world. This degradation in air quality is a significant concern, not just for those with existing respiratory conditions but even for the otherwise healthy.
How to Stay Safe Indoors
While there's limited control over the air quality outside, especially during intense wildfire episodes, the indoor environment is a different story. Making our homes and offices a safe haven from pollutants requires meticulous attention to detail and proactive measures. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to maintain indoor air quality and ensure a healthier living space during wildfire smog:
- Seal the perimeter: Start by ensuring windows, doors, and any other openings are sealed tight. If necessary, consider using weather stripping or draft stoppers to prevent smoke-laden air from seeping in.
- Upgrade your air filter: This is a crucial step. Upgrading to a high-efficiency air filter, like the MERV-13, can drastically reduce the number of fine particles that enter your indoor space. Remember, it's these minute particles that are often the most detrimental to health.
- Air purifiers to the rescue: Invest in a good quality air purifier, preferably one with a HEPA filter. These devices are designed to capture even the tiniest of airborne particles, ensuring that the air you breathe indoors is significantly cleaner.
- Duct and vent maintenance: Over time, dust and pollutants can accumulate in the ducts of HVAC systems. Scheduling periodic clean-ups can prevent the spread of these contaminants throughout your space.
- Limit indoor pollutants: Activities like smoking, burning candles, or using wood-burning stoves can exacerbate indoor air quality. When outdoor air quality is already compromised, it's best to avoid adding more pollutants to the indoor mix.
- Vacuuming: While vacuuming might seem like a simple chore, it's an essential one in the fight against indoor pollution. Opt for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and strong suction to ensure you're not just redistributing dust but effectively removing it.
- Manage humidity levels: Moist conditions can trap smoke particles and also lead to mold growth. Invest in a dehumidifier or use your AC system to maintain a comfortable indoor humidity level, ideally between 30-50%.
- Freshen up naturally: While the temptation to mask odors might be high, it's best to steer clear of chemical air fresheners. Instead, opt for natural alternatives like essential oils, or simply boil some herbs or citrus peels for a refreshing scent.
- Ventilate when possible: Once the air quality improves, it's vital to flush out any lingering pollutants. Open windows and doors, use exhaust fans, or run the HVAC system on the vent mode to bring in fresh air.
- Stay informed and prepared: Equip yourself with an air quality monitor. These devices can provide real-time insights into indoor air quality, allowing you to take immediate action if levels become unsafe.
- Prioritize filter replacements: As filters trap particles, they can get clogged and become less efficient over time. Set a regular schedule to check and replace air filters to ensure they're always performing at their peak.
Brookaire's MERV-13: The Gold Standard
In situations like these, the efficiency of your air filter can make a world of difference. Brookaire's MERV 13 pleated air filters are arguably among the best. Fabricated with synthetic media, backed with wire and encased in a moisture-resistant frame, these filters promise longevity and consistent performance.
Notably, the MERV 13 media boasts Nanofiber technology, ensuring robust airflow and efficient filtration. Suitable for diverse settings like commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, gyms, and hospitality venues, these filters effectively trap pollutants ranging from bacteria and viruses to most types of smoke and dust. If you’re looking for the gold standard in terms of mitigating the worst effects of wildfire air pollution, this is it.
Get Prepared for Future Incidents with Brookaire
The haze from the wildfires serves as a wake-up call. The HVAC systems in our homes and workplaces play a pivotal role in shielding us from the brunt of such pollution, and now is the time to get prepared. To get started, browse our full inventory of products or contact us for more information.