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The Truth About Wildfire Smoke and How to Recover

Wildfire Smoke Can Travel Thousands of Miles and Linger in Air for Months

As the wildfire season begins, millions of people are in preparation for the events that follow. It’s time to learn the truth about wildfire smoke and the health effects it has on humans. In the United States, nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires are started by humans and could have been prevented. An extreme increase in caution needs to be applied when dealing with fire during the warm, dry months of summer.

Several ways to prepare for wildfire season include being vigilant with all emergency alerts, creating a fire-resistant zone, recognizing nearby water sources, and supplying your family with an emergency plan to escape the fire and dangerous smoke. It may be obvious how dangerous fire is, but what about the heavy smoke and ash it produces?


1. What Makes Up Wildfire Smoke
2. Inhaling Smoke Affects the Body
3. How Outside Air Enters Indoors
4. Recovery From Wildfire
5. Treating Your Indoor Air
6. Compact Smoke Test

Plane submerging wildfire.

What Makes Up Wildfire Smoke

Carbon Monoxide
An odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. When inhaled, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the bloodstream and can lead to serious illness, or death.
Hazardous Air Pollutants
HAPs are toxic air pollutants known to cause cancer and other serious health issues.
Particle Pollution
This represents the main component of wildfire smoke and the principal public health threat.

Although humans are greatly affected by the mass destruction of wildfires at ground level, they also have a huge impact on the air we breathe. Smoke from a large wildfire has the ability to rise up to 14 miles into the stratosphere, then travel thousands of miles across the world due to currents of air and weather systems. Wildfires on the West Coast and Canada were providing “unhealthy” levels of air quality in New York City, around 3,000 miles away.

Inhaling Smoke Affects the Body

Wildfire smoke produces fine particulate called PM 2.5 and even smaller nanoparticles. These particles are harmful to humans when they are inhaled since they can penetrate the lungs and then enter the bloodstream. As a result, it can lead to cardiac arrest, heart disease, and stroke, but can also stress and weaken the respiratory system making people more vulnerable to deadly diseases.

How Outside Air Enters Indoors

As you can see (image below), outside air can enter your home in a number of ways. From plumbing to vents and fans, even the most air-tight homes may have some amount of outdoor air entering. Improper indoor air quality can result in many adverse health effects. There are three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality, which include:

Source Control
Eliminate the source of pollution by closing all windows and doors.
Air Cleaners
Since smoke particles are sized from 0.4µ-0.7µ, air purifiers, such as the Deluxe, trap and eliminate smoke and particles on contact with 99% efficiency using DFS technology.
Improved Ventilation
Proper ventilation is paramount to the health of the occupants, but in this case, if the outside air is contaminated by smoke, the IAQ will be negatively affected.

How outside air enters indoors.

Recovery from Wildfire

Once the wildfire has been controlled and it is safe to enter your home (if evacuated), make sure you keep the windows shut and have your air purifiers on the highest level. Windows must remain closed until the outside air quality becomes healthy to breathe once again.

Local stations and emergency alert applications should notify you when the air quality improves, but unfortunately, this may take a while. Smoke can linger in the outside air for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of the wildfire. The image below is an example of an air quality index, which describes the level of concern for humans.

Air quality index

Treating Your Indoor Air

When searching for an air cleaner, make sure they have a VOC filter, which removes household chemicals and gases from the air.  Many air purification units can and will help to reduce wildfire smoke and the issues that it can cause. If you’re looking for home or business air purification solutions, visit our residential pages to see how we can help.

Using DFS technology, HealthWay® air purification solutions remove harmful particles from the air. Lingering smoke can irritate the lungs and result in coughing, but more serious side effects if you have asthma or other respiratory diseases. On average, people spend 90% of their days inside. Make the most of your space and breathe clean with the help of HealthWay® products. Watch the HealthWay Compact Air Purifier Smoke Test video here.

For more information from Smokey Bear on how to prepare your home for wildfires, check out the QR code below.

Smokey Bear QR Code


About HealthWay Family of Brands

Located in Upstate NY, we’re a team of experts and industry leaders reimagining the world as a better, safer place with innovative air purification solutions. From homes to commercial buildings, we proudly design and engineer scalable, efficient air cleaning solutions for any environment.

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