Wildfire Smoke and Maintaining Indoor Air Quality

August 09, 2023

Wildfires have emerged from a localized nuisance to an annual problem that affects millions. They generate a wide range of gas phase and particulate contaminants. The smoke composition varies based on the heat and relative completeness of the combustion and the great variety of material that can burn in the path of a wildfire. Wildfire smoke changes rapidly and significantly with time and distance, as most gas phase contaminants disperse and larger particulate settles. When not immediately near the fire, VOCs have not been found in high concentrations. Weather and wind patterns also play important roles in where and how long the smoke remains.

For example, smoke from the Camp Fire was trapped by a stagnant weather system even though the fire was 150 miles away from the source, in the San Francisco Bay Area, by a stagnant weather system. Additionally, fine and ultra-fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM1) will stay suspended indefinitely and are the primary component of the haze associated with proximity to a wildfire. This haze is both an annoyance and a health hazard.

High-efficiency particulate and gas phase filtration can effectively clean the outdoor air and keep indoor contaminants below acceptable levels. Because of the preponderance of ultra-fine particles, typically, some form of active filtration is employed when trying to mitigate smoke. The Dynamic V8 Air Cleaning System can reduce average outdoor air PM2.5 concentrations under the NAAQS 24-hour and Annual maximums. Further, the mechanisms of the V8 give it an enhanced ability to remove ultra-fine particles and the attached gas phase contaminants that make up the bulk of the wildfire contaminants. Dynamic EDGE Carbon Panels may also be desirable to capture gas-phase contaminants for those with specific IAQ needs.