Popular Science recently took a look at how wildfires are polluting our air. They cited research about the increase in two pollutants due to wildfires: PM2.5 (fine particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size) and ozone. This research, conducted by Dmitri Kalashnikov, a doctoral student in environmental science at Washington State University Vancouver, found the co-occurrence of these two pollutants has increased significantly in the last 20 years in the western U.S. during July–September, as wildfires have increased.
Dan Jaffe noted that understanding the relationship between PM2.5 and ozone levels isn’t straightforward. He and Jaffe Group researchers have previously found that the most extreme levels of PM2.5 and ozone tend not to occur on the same days. He says that the new paper is still “definitely a step forward.”
Understanding and responding to the increase in wildfires and their unhealthy pollution are important issues for western communities and policy makers.
Read the Popular Science article
A new paper by group members Dr. Nate May, Clara Dixon, and Dr. Dan Jaffe evaluates the effectiveness of low-cost air filter units during wildfire smoke events. The increased wildland fire activity in the western US in recent years produces high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which negatively affects the health of millions of people. During wildfire smoke events, staying indoors is often recommended. However, how good is indoor air quality during smoke events? The authors looked at PM2.5 measurements from the PurpleAir sensor network, a publicly available network of low-cost air quality sensors located indoors and outdoors. They also analyzed the effectiveness of residential filter units in reducing indoor PM2.5. One low-cost DIY filtration method consists of attaching a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value-13 (MERV-13) fan filter to a standard box fan. This method was found to be highly effective at reducing indoor PM2.5 when recirculating air in a single room.
Read the full paper in Aerosol and Air Quality Research
See the video on how to make your own air purifier at home