Australian bushfires smoke

Are you safe indoors from the Australian bushfires smoke?

January 15th, 2020

We couldn’t be more heart wrenched by the current Australian bushfires situation. The wildfires are causing so much damage to the environment and the wildlife that it’s hard to just sit and watch – and we shouldn’t. So, in this time of emergency, we wish to raise attention towards an important matter: are we truly safe in our homes from the smoke while the fire is raging outside?

You can see Bushfire smoke from space

Bushfire smoke contains fine aerosol particles that can irritate the lungs and eyes, worsen chronic diseases (like asthma) and enter the bloodstream, affecting the whole body. The outdoor air quality in some parts of the country has been compared to smoking 10 cigarettes per day, and there is a rising increase in people seeking emergency help for breathing problems.

Australian bushfires as seen from space by NASA Aqua Satellite
NASA Aqua Satellite highlighting fire detections over notable landmarks. (Jan, 4 2020)

This has prompted warnings to the population, advising to stay indoors. Not all indoor spaces, though, are effectively smoke proof, meaning that sometimes dangerous aerosol particles could get indoors, even if the windows are carefully closed.

Indoor air pollution prevention

With just your windows closed, the indoor air quality could be only 25% better than outdoors, at best, says Lidia Morawska, director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health. So, if closing the windows does not keep the smoke pollution out, this means we must take other measures in order to prevent outdoor particles from oozing in. Besides, being it so difficult to predict how long it will be until the smoke clears, we must do it fast.

So, what are the most important steps to follow? We have listed a few. Feel free to share – awareness is essential!

Australian bushfires smoke prevention indoors

  • (Still) Keep the windows and doors shut – as much as this can’t completely prevent any issue, it doesn’t aggravate the situation, either;
  • Filter indoor air with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter;
  • Use air purifiers and air conditioners (but make sure to avoid fresh-air intake);
  • Monitor regularly the air quality forecasts (each department has one);
  • Use IAQ monitors to detect in real time any arising issue;
  • Evacuate if needed;

How to help

For all those who wish to help in this time of emergency, we also want to leave a few links to help out with a small donation.

Make sure you only donate to real and certified organizations! Check them out on the Australian Charities and Non-Profits Commission’s website.

Cover image: Smoke of the Australian Bushfires – January 4th, 2020. Data courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, processed by Pierre Markuse.

Interested to know more about Airgloss? Discover Airgloss Project! We also have an interesting article on Indoor air pollution: the elephant in the room. And let us know in the comments if you have any other suggestion.

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