As the wildfire season rages on throughout the United States, it is important for Americans to understand the potential impact of fire on their indoor air quality. While many of the risks associated with wildfires are obvious, like the destruction of wildlife and structures or the emissions it contributes to outdoor air quality, the effect on indoor air quality is less prevalent in our understanding of wildfire consequences.
In this article, we will discuss the ways in which wildfires can harm your indoor air quality and preventive steps you can take to keep you and your family safe during wildfire season.
What do Wildfires Emit?
Wildfires emit a substantial amount of particulate matter into the air and vastly increase the presence of toxic pollutants. The most common pollutants emitted by wildfires that affect our air quality are carbon dioxide, black and brown carbon, and ozone precursors. These pollutants impact clouds and radiation, and not just on a local scale. In fact, American wildfires impact the global climate. Similarly, the record-high wildfires that have occurred in Australia and Russia in recent years impact us and our day-to-day climate. Thus, the toxic pollutants of wildfires impact the air quality of the entire world.
It is important to understand this as there is often a level of naivete about wildfire’s impact if you do not live near an area where their occurrence is frequent. Further, it is important to understand it as it allows you to identify the issues it causes and solutions you may be able to implement.
Does it Only Impact the Outside?
One of the common misconceptions about wildfire emissions and our exposure to them is that we will only be impacted outside. The simple answer to this question is: No!
In fact, you will probably receive more exposure on the inside of a house or building as that is where you will shelter during wildfire episodes. Americans spend the vast majority of their time inside, and the unfortunate reality is most American buildings do not have the proper infrastructure to fight against poor air quality. This means that you can feel safe inside, but you are not really protected against any of the toxic pollutants and emissions. In short, being inside does not magically improve your surrounding air quality.
This issue can be lessened, though, with proper infrastructure and monetary support for those most impacted. For example, if you live in a home where wildfires are a potential hazard, you can invest in a residential tracker like the WYND Air Quality Tracker, which will conveniently connect to your smartphone. This gives you a constant monitor of your air quality wherever you go. If you find concerning levels of pollutants or carbon dioxide inside your home, then you can invest in a commercial purifier, such as the WYND Max, to make your environment safer.
These products allow you the most control over air quality available to the average consumer on the market. Even if you are unsure if you would like to invest in a full-on purifier, then you may be inclined to look into the WYND Plus, a portable, personal air purifier.
It is vital to understand that the impact of wildfires on air quality is not just limited to the outdoors. These emissions impact us while we are inside buildings and result in the majority of our exposure to the toxic pollutants caused by wildfires. If you are prepared with this knowledge, then you give yourself the ability and initiative to track your indoor air quality, and ultimately clean the air you breathe.
How Much Does It Impact Us?
Unfortunately, these emissions are quite harmful and can exacerbate existing conditions or bring on new ones. On the less severe end of the spectrum, the pollutants that disrupt air quality can cause eye irritation or minor respiratory irritation. While minor relative to the health consequences, it still disrupts the quality of life of a person through no fault of their own.
On the more severe end of the spectrum, toxic emissions from wildfires can cause respiratory disease, heart failure, and bronchitis, as well as contribute to premature deaths. Hospitals and medical clinics generally see an increase in patients during wildfire season, often with issues either caused or worsened by the pollutants, elevated levels of carbon dioxide, and exposure to smoky air. The strain on hospitals is essential to remember, as emergency services departments are already overwhelmed by the challenges presented by the wildfire. This is more reason to try to do basic preparation and strive for some level of self-sufficiency during wildfire season.
The long-term impacts of these pollutants, sadly, are not totally established. It will probably take many more decades of wildfires to figure out just how much it has affected our communal health. However, this is not a reason to delay addressing poor air quality. If you live in or near an impacted part of the United States, then you should be preparing every wildfire season.
Wrapping Up on Wildfire’s Impact
Hopefully, this article has presented new or useful information to you that can help you deal with wildfire season in a more confident manner. Wildfire season is prevalent across much of the United States, yet municipalities do not always seem ready to deal with both their current and future threats. If you are near an affected location, then you should visit the WYND website and see which products are practical for you.Whether it is just a small, personal air quality tracker or you opt to purchase a commercial purifier, it is a purchase that helps you put your health and well-being first. If you have any questions about the products or their application, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. We are happy to help.