During natural disasters – such as the wildfires in California and the west coast or hurricane season – people’s first priority is often their families and friends’ well-being. Once everyone is safe, and the disaster has passed, it becomes a matter of picking up the pieces and returning to “normal” daily life. This return to “normal” can include returning to work and schools. Beyond repairing the physical damage, many are unaware that these disasters can also impact air quality during these events and after. Educating yourself on the dangers these natural disasters can have on the air quality can help protect people’s health during these unexpected times and beyond.
While people are often worried about the state of their homes and their own indoor air quality, businesses, hotels, and schools are just some examples of other industries that also need to consider indoor air quality if they remain open in areas that are susceptible to natural disasters. People want to know and be reassured that even though there may be difficult times when a disaster hits, their loved one’s health is being protected while attending school, traveling, or going to work every day.
Thanks to the growing availability of portable air purifiers, there are tools that can help remove dangerous particles in the air during and even sometimes in the days or weeks after a natural disaster. Below are some examples of natural disasters and the effects that they can have on air quality, and how a portable air purifier can help eliminate these particles from the air.
Wildfires: Smoke from wildfires consists of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. These microscopic particles can get into people’s eyes and respiratory system and cause problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses and aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases.
Droughts/Dust Storms: During a drought or in areas where dust is prominent, dust storms produce tiny solid particles that can get into the lungs and cause serious health problems or worsen existing conditions. If dust gets into the lungs, it can cause irritation and trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, in addition to coughing, wheezing, and runny noses.
- Hurricanes/Storms: While debris and dangerous particles can get into the air and affect indoor and outdoor air quality during these storms, one of the most common problems is flooding. Water can get into a house or building and seep into the walls and furniture, causing dangerous mold. Mold produces allergens and irritants, and if inhaled or touched, can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.
- Volcano Eruptions: Volcanoes can emit ash, gases, and rocks into the air for miles downwind of an eruption. Exposure to volcanic ash can be harmful to people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and other chronic lung diseases. These small particles can even scratch the eye. While most gases can blow away quickly, heavy gasses such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sulfur dioxide can remain and irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
Managing Indoor Air Quality
While it may be difficult to eliminate pollution exposure fully, there are ways to improve overall indoor air quality in a home, business, or school. If you live in or are traveling to an area where natural disasters are common, having a solution in place to clean the air and improve overall air quality should be a necessary part of emergency preparedness.
Changing air filters regularly or installing a portable air purifying device can help reduce the impact of harmful particles in the air year-round, particularly during and after a natural disaster. These air purifiers typically work by pulling in the air in a room, passing that air through various filters or other purification methods, and then releasing the cleaner air back into a room. Over time, this process filters out dangerous air elements, resulting in a cleaner overall environment.
It should be noted that not every air purifier is the same, as some can only filter down to 300nm. As some of the most dangerous particles are between 5 and 300nm in size, this is something to consider when looking for the right device for the room you are trying to clean. Additionally, certain methods of purifying harmful release outgasses as a byproduct and should be avoided. Using a combination of three manual filters, the Celios G200 Advanced Air Purifier is the world’s only portable air purifier to emit cleanroom-quality air. This allows for a reduction of the number of ultrafine air particles until 99.99999% of particulate matter is removed, providing cleanroom-quality air in small room environments.
Removing mold, smoke, or other dangerous particles from the air is essential to recovering from a natural disaster. By using a portable air purifier, people can be reassured that they and their loved ones are breathing clean air and that businesses and schools are creating the best environment possible as people’s lives return to normal.