Arizona wildfires prompt warnings; Officials recommend air purifiers

Air pollution from an out-of-control wildfire in the Southwest is at the top of the air quality news today.

More than 233,000 acres of ponderosa pine forest have already been consumed by a giant wildfire in Eastern Arizona, and strong winds and lightning were expected to add to the fire’s spread, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Thousands fled the towns of Alpine andNutrioso as smoke and haze spread from Arizona to central Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.

Arizona officials with the Northern Arizona Type 2 Incident Management Program, the agency responsible for wildfire firefighting efforts,said those with heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly are especially at risk.

Airborne particulate matter, the agency said, is the biggest danger associated with breathing smoke from a wildfire. The agency recommended using a HEPA-certified air purifier to reduce levels of particles indoors, and cautioned against using air purifiers that generate ozone and thus add pollution to your home.

IQAir purifiers, it should be noted, filter the tiniest airborne smoke particles – down to 0.003 microns, which is 100 times smaller than those trapped by typical HEPA filters. The agency also recommended using common sense to protect against the wildfire smoke:

  • Remain indoors it if looks smoky outside.
  • If you’re advised to stay indoors, keep windows and doors shut.
  • Run your air conditioner, if you have one.
  • Avoid wood and gas stoves and candles, which raise particle levels indoors.
  • If you suffer from asthma, be vigilant about taking your medicines as prescribed.

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