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Protecting Yourself from the Hazards of Wildfire Smoke

The past several fire seasons, especially in the western United States, demonstrated the personal hazards of exposure to wildfire smoke.

Plumes of wildfire smoke spread far beyond the wildfire sites, where evacuation was not mandated, but still creating health hazards for many people far away from the direct dangers of the fires.

Wildfire smoke is a combination of hazardous and toxic gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, wood, and construction materials. Health effects of wildfire smoke include coughing and trouble breathing, stinging eyes, shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, and can lead to asthma attacks, fatigue, and even a rapid heartbeat. Smoke containing microscopic particles can penetrate deep into a person’s lungs and cause inflammation.

Persons with heart and lung diseases are at an even greater risk, as are older adults, persons with diabetes, and pregnant women.

Smoke drifting over the landscape can penetrate the most well-built homes. While most home heating and air conditioning systems have filters, these filters capture only larger dust particles drawn in by heating and cooling air conditioning systems.

Monitor news and weather broadcasts that include air quality reports. If reported smoke levels are increasing, this means more of the fine particles are also entering your home or office. Simply staying indoors, and even wearing dust or surgical masks, will not provide adequate protection. This is especially true if you or someone in your family has asthma or other lung disease, or cardiovascular disease.

“Unfortunately, whenever there is a wildfire, we see a many people with chronic respiratory problems whose symptoms get worse,” says Dr. Peter Chen, director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine a Cedar-Sinai.

Many doctors recommend relying on your home air conditioning to provide protection, but this may require special High-Efficiency Particulate Air or High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestor (HEPA) filters, and these filters may have to be changed frequently to provide adequate protection. Typical face masks used for dust protection or routine protection from disease-causing bacteria and viruses may not provide adequate protection, may be uncomfortable, and must be changed frequently. FDA-approved respirator masks can be effective if the are perfectly fitted with no air gaps, but they are typically for “single use” only.

There are solutions available to ensure the air quality in your home or office.

The Allerair Air Medic Pro 5 Ultra S “Smoke Eater” and the Allerair Air Medic 5 Ultra S Air Purifier provide safe, effective, breathable air under a variety of conditions.

Allerair Air Medic Pro 5 Ultra S “Smoke Eater”

The Allerair Air Medic Smoke Eater is a powerful portable air purifier that removes tobacco and wildfire smoke as well as other contaminates, odors, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which cause short- and long-term adverse health effects. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products including paints and paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, as well as a component smoke, including wildfires. Concentrations VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. 

The “Smoke Eater” includes a heavy-duty 5-inch thick, 30-lb activated carbon filter and Super HEPA filter that can be critically important to provide contaminate-free air for individuals with cardio or respiratory conditions in areas subjected to wildfire smoke.

Even healthy individuals often find smoke and chemical odors unpleasant and distracting or acting as mild allergens that cause sneezing or watery eyes. The Allerair is ideal for large rooms and offices up 1,500 square feet. Under normal operating situations, the carbon and HEPA filters only need to be replace every five years.

When equipped with the optional UV filter, the Smoke Eater will rid the air of mold, mildew, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, and can be an important addition to a “sick room,” both for the health of the patient but for those attending or visiting the patient.

Allerair Air Medic 5 Ultra S Air Purifier

Austin Air’s 360-degree intake system draws air into all sides of the HealthMate Plus®, passing it through a 4-stage filter that cleans the air in spaces as large as 1,500 square feet using a robust multi-stage filtration system. 

Clinical trials conducted by Johns Hopkins and Cincinnati Children's Hospital show that Austin Air Purifiers improve overall respiratory health. 

The Ultra S Air Purifier features the ability to reduce the levels of harmful chemical, noxious gases, smoke, VOCs, formaldehyde, and sub-micron-sized particles. The air purifier’s superior performance is especially important for people with cardio and respiratory illnesses and who are extremely sensitive to a variety of irritants and contaminates in the air. And, it provides even greater protection from wildfire smoke.

The combination of HEPA and carbon filter need to be replaced only once every 5 years under typical use, saving on costly and frequent filter replacements.

Allerair Air Medic 5 Ultra S Air Purifier Features

Particle Removal

99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns and 95% of all particles larger than 0.1 microns

Air Exchange Rate

2 times per hour

Number of Cleaning Levels


Cubic Feet per Minute (speed)

75 CFM on low
200 CFM on medium
400 CFM on high

Air Intake Location

360 degrees around sides


Whether you need temporary protection from wildfire smoke or a longer-term solution for airborne contaminates and pathogens, Allerair filters and air purifiers provide a dependable solution.