Bushfires are a seasonal problem that happens in Australia, usually during the summer when the weather gets too hot and dry. These intense wildfires devastate the forests and are known to harm wildlife, displacing thousands of animals.
The smoke produced by this phenomenon also has a significant impact on indoor air quality. Bushfires are typically caused by a combination of natural and human factors that will be discussed in this write-up.
As bushfire smoke infiltrates homes and buildings, it carries with them harmful pollutants, including particulate matter, gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Prolonged exposure to this smoke can have detrimental effects on one’s health, causing adverse respiratory and cardiovascular issues.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how the effects of bushfire smoke on IAQ and how air purifiers mitigate the effects of indoor air pollution.
Understanding bushfire smoke
Bushfire smoke is a complex mixture of various harmful pollutants, including particulate matter, gases and VOCs. Particulate matter refers to tiny particles suspended in the air, which is usually categorised into two main types: PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 microns) and PM10 (particles smaller than 10 microns).
These particles contain a range of different substances, including ash and other byproducts of combustion. Gases found in bushfire smoke include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde. Prolonged exposure or inhalation in high concentrations can cause harm to one’s respiratory system.
What causes bushfires?
Bushfires are caused by a variety of different factors, natural and human. Natural causes include lightning strikes which can ignite dry crops during extremely dry weather. Extreme heat during summer can also cause this. With the Super El Nino expected to happen later this year, Australia could potentially be seeing more bushfires during that period.
READ MORE: Super El Nino
Human activities, however, are also responsible for a significant number of bushfires. These activities included discarded cigarette butts, unattended campfires, agricultural activities, machinery malfunctions or even arson.
In some cases, bushfires are a result of negligence. Many times, bushfires are able to be contained before they become uncontrollable, but, in some cases, they can destroy thousands of homes, killing millions of wild animals and further endangering certain species of animals.
LEARN MORE: 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season
Health risks of inhaling bushfire smoke
Exposure to bushfire smoke indoors can pose significant health risks. The fine particles in smoke, particularly PM2.5, can easily penetrate one’s respiratory system, reaching the lungs and eventually entering the bloodstream.
Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath while also exacerbating existing respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
Gases like carbon monoxide, on the other hand, can interfere wit the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, resulting in reduced oxygen supply to vital organs. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can be fatal.
VOCs found in bushfire smoke can cause eye, nose and throat irritation as well as headaches, feelings of nausea and dizziness. VOCs like formaldehyde are considered carcinogens and can have long-term health effects.
Pregnant women, young children and the elderly are at risk of feeling the brunt of the effects of bushfire smoke, especially if existing respiratory conditions already exist. Taking proactive measures to minimise one’s exposure to indoor air pollution through the use of air purifiers can be a crucial factor in safeguarding the well-being of residents during bushfire occurrences.
Air purifiers for bushfire smoke
Ionmax air purifiers work by using up to six different stages of filtration technology to remove pollutants from indoor air. Ionmax air purifiers can remove up to 99.97% of allergens from the air and are equipped with an antiviral HEPA filter along with other important filtration features such as a negative ioniser, activated carbon filter, UV-C light and more.
The Ionmax+ AIRE series of air purifiers utilise six stages of air purification that also include a titanium dioxide photocatalyst filter that breaks down organic compounds such as VOCs through an oxidation process to remove odours from the air.
By using multiple different filters targeting different compounds in the air, Ionmax air purifiers offer efficient and comprehensive air purification, eliminating the harmful effects of VOCs and PM2.5 particles, reducing the levels of harmful pollutants in the air and improving overall indoor air quality.
When selecting an air purifier for bushfire smoke mitigation, it’s important to consider several factors, including room size, filtration technology, clean air delivery rate, maintenance requirements and additional features such as remote control and smart indoor air quality monitors.
By considering these factors, you’ll be able to confidently select an air purifier that suits your needs and is the perfect size for your home.
LEARN MORE: What to consider when buying an air purifier
For more indoor air quality tips and guidance, visit the Ionmax resources page for expert advice on air treatment and more.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.