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Summer Wildfires Pose Risk to Indoor Air Quality Too

Particles in smoke can greatly impact indoor air quality, but risks can be mitigated by embracing the right air filters and practices.

07/18/2012 // Riverdale, NJ, USA // Camfil Farr USA // Lynne Laake // (press release)

The Colorado wildfire — the most destructive in the state’s history, consuming more than 28 square miles and taking two lives — has been an all-too-clear reminder of the dangers fire brings. But even with all the headlines and round-the-clock coverage, one particular danger has garnered little attention: the impact smoke can have on indoor air. In fact, without adequate air filtration, hazardous outdoor air can quickly become hazardous indoor air. Since we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, what seems like a refuge may not be so safe at all.

Wildfire smoke can release an array of contaminants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone-forming chemicals, and other volatile organic compounds. All of these substances can trigger serious, even debilitating health problems. For example, particulate matter can include soot and ash containing irritating and cancer-causing compounds. Carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and decreased cognitive functioning when present in high levels in the blood. Other substances released into the air during a fire can aggravate asthma, injure lung tissue, or cause other respiratory problems.

While the elderly, pregnant women, and young children (who breathe in more air per pound of body weight than older individuals, thus making them more susceptible to the dangers of smoke) are particularly at risk, anyone who is exposed to wildfire smoke faces an increased chance of harm.

Fortunately, lowering these risks — indeed, dramatically decreasing them — is possible through the use of the best-of-breed air filtration products and practices. For businesses, office buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, and other users of commercial and industrial air filters, Camfil Farr — the world’s leading provider of clean air solutions — recommends the following steps:

— In air handling units, use air filters with an efficiency of MERV 13-A. MERV — Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value — is a filter efficiency standard published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). A high MERV value, like 13-A, helps ensure that dangerous particles are kept out of the indoor air, and that individuals inside the building are kept safe.

— Increase the frequency with which you check air-handling units. If the air filters are clogged by ash, they should be replaced immediately. Keep in mind that clogged air filters often show a rapid increase in pressure drop. A good rule of thumb is to change your air filters once the initial pressure drop has doubled.

— Embrace efficient, sustainable commercial air filters. These innovative designs — like those developed by Camfil Farr — require less energy and maintain their peak efficiency far longer than traditionally designed air filters that tend to degrade soon after installation. Their greater efficiency makes them more effective at keeping dangerous particles — like those from fire and smoke — out of the indoor environment.

Smoke and fire are huge hazards, both outdoors and indoors. But with a carefully planned and executed air filtration strategy — leveraging the benefits of cutting-edge air filter design — the risks can be minimized. That’s not just a smart strategy; it’s a vital one.

For more information, visit us online at, or call us toll-free at 888.599.6620.

Media Information:

Phone: 888.599.6620
Url: Camfil Farr USA Air Filters

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