WildFire Pollution, Indoor Air Quality, and Cleaners

WildFire Pollution, Indoor Air Quality, and Cleaners

Waves of forest fires have been wrecking havoc on large areas in North America, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Beyond the painfully charred landscapes they leave behind, wildfires significantly degrade both atmospheric and indoor air quality, taking a huge toll on our health. On the haziest, most toxic days, when the sun casts an eerie red glow from behind an ashen fog, we are told to avoid going outdoors and to stay inside. But what of the particulate matter pollution that seeps into our homes? While it is widely known that the atmospheric pollution produced by these fires is extremely noxious, it is crucial to raise awareness regarding how these fires impact our indoor environments and what steps we can take to keep our homes safe.

Smoke from forest fires is made up of several different gases (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter from the combustion of organic matter. While the gases hover close to the fires, the particulate matter can travel up to 600 miles from their point of origin. Particles are characterized by their aerodynamic diameter and can be classified into two groups: coarse particles (diameters generally larger than 2.5 µm and smaller than or equal to 10 µm) fine particles (particles generally 2.5 µm in diameter or smaller). These represent the main pollutant emitted from wildfire smoke, comprising approximately 90% of total particle mass. They also happen to be the most insidious, as they infiltrate not only our indoor environments, but our bodies as well.

Wildfire pollution impacts our health in several different ways. In the short and medium term, the smoke can cause our eyes to water, irritate nasal passages and induce coughing fits. People with asthma or heart disease are more at risk of suffering from severe symptoms due the fine particle pollution. Emergency rooms see an uptick in admissions of patients with chest pains, heart attacks and cerebrovascular accidents during wildfires.

The particles can also take a toll on our mental health. They are so fine that we breathe them into our lungs, where they enter our blood vessels and can impact other organs- including our brain. Because they cross over the blood- brain barrier, the particles exacerbate the symptoms of people suffering from mental health issues and impact certain neurological processes. Anxiety and depression skyrocket in populations impacted by wildfires.

While we have no control over atmospheric pollution, there are a few proactive steps that can be taken to maintain indoor air quality and limit exposure to particulate matter:

1. Closing doors and windows
It is of crucial importance to close all openings into the home to limit the infiltration of particulate matter.

2. Use an air purifier
This can make a tremendous difference in improving indoor air quality. It is recommended to invest in one equipped with a HEPA filter, as they capture solid particles in the air.

3. Switch from ventilation to recirculation on all HVAC units
Under normal circumstances, we want clean outdoor air to replace stale indoor air frequently. But when atmospheric air quality plummets, we want to keep it out. This simple switch allows the recirculation of the better-quality air that’s already inside our homes.eliminate sources of indoor pollution This includes smoke, wood stoves, cooking oil and all products that contain VOCs (perfumes, hairspray, nail polish, traditional cleaning products..) keep your home as clean as possible

Cleaning with a HEPA vacuum and avoid using alcohol-based cleaning products at all costs.Mabel products are free of fragrances, VOCs and alcohol. Alcohol based cleaners drive changes in the chemical composition of indoor air by increasing VOC concentrations. They also mingle with particulate matter to create new toxic particles. Mabel cleaning products are stable, even when sprayed, meaning their chemical composition do not change. They contribute to indoor air quality, instead of deteriorating it. Cleaning the floor and surfaces with our All Purpose Cleaner will remove particulate matter and contribute to keeping your indoor air quality at a safe level.