Coping with Wildfire smoke

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Barkingsparrow
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Barkingsparrow »

unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:57 pm
000 wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:34 pm
unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:43 pm
CommitmentDevice wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:31 am +1 to running HVAC with good filters. After researching, we went with a 4" thick Merv 13. (thick > 1", Merv 13 > Merv 12)
We also been running a couple of internal air filters that we've been running. They are basically a box fan plus air filter.
We'll add an internal air quality monitor to our collection at some point.

Recognize that fire seasons like this are becoming the new normal on the West Coast. (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/th ... -to-blame/). We're seriously considering a move.
Where would you move that isn't impacted by forest fires?

And are you certain there aren't other natural disasters in that area, such as hurricanes, or tornadoes?
Much of flyover country is pretty tame. Tornadoes are rare, quick, localized, and usually low damage.
Isn't it also pretty boring?
Yes!
000
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by 000 »

unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:57 pm Isn't it also pretty boring?
No...

There really isn't much difference unless you are a frequent user one of the handful of "cultural attractions" in megaurban areas.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by unclescrooge »

000 wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:31 pm
unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:57 pm Isn't it also pretty boring?
No...

There really isn't much difference unless you are a frequent user one of the handful of "cultural attractions" in megaurban areas.
By cultural attractions, do you mean museums, zoos, theatres, art exhibits, wine tasting, ethnic restaurants, not to mention beaches and mountains?

Yes, from time to time.
000
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by 000 »

unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:45 pm By cultural attractions, do you mean museums, zoos, theatres, art exhibits, wine tasting, ethnic restaurants, not to mention beaches and mountains?

Yes, from time to time.
Flyover country has all of those, although there is a dearth of mountains in certain parts.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Mudpuppy »

Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:01 pm For folks who have the means to do so, it seems like a no-brainer to flee the area for couple weeks at least.
This is going to last for far longer than a couple of weeks. It's already been a month. I have four portable HEPA filters spaced strategically through the house (one in each bedroom and one in the middle of the main living space). Even with that, my indoor air quality is still getting affected (but partially because I didn't want to climb on the roof to disable the fresh air intake on the HVAC). My cat with lung disease has been struggling even though he's an indoors-only cat, and I can't tell him to sleep next to a HEPA filter, although he did start doing that on his own this week from time to time.

Today is the first day I've seen actual sunlight for a while, and the indoor air quality sensors are showing the trend downwards. I've moved all the house plants to window sills to soak up the sunlight, and maybe I won't need to wear my vented N95 mask while being outside today. It might even make sense to mow the back lawn, which I've been putting off this month while the air quality was bad. Even wearing the vented N95 mask, I didn't want to be outside any longer than necessary.

I also ground myself in the reality that my part of the state has nothing compared to the air quality right next to the fires. The Mammoth Lakes air quality station is still reporting, and I've seen it go above 2000 (I can't even imagine that) at some points during the Creek Fire. It went days in a row with readings above 500, which is off the scale for AirNow.gov. It's getting better today at least: https://www.airnow.gov/?city=Mammoth%20 ... ountry=USA
Valuethinker
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Valuethinker »

000 wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:51 pm
unclescrooge wrote: Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:45 pm By cultural attractions, do you mean museums, zoos, theatres, art exhibits, wine tasting, ethnic restaurants, not to mention beaches and mountains?

Yes, from time to time.
Flyover country has all of those, although there is a dearth of mountains in certain parts.
We are talking about such a huge area? Arkansas is not Ohio.

There are fantastic art collections in the Midwest especially Ohio. I am hoping to do a Midwest art tour when I retire. Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago Detroit etc.

I also want to see Lawrence Kansas which is historically hugely important:

- the American Civil War started thereabouts. Kansas Territory blazed, and America followed

- site of largest (white) civilian massacre in US history (Ted Quantrill)

- The TV film ",The Day After" was set here. Watching this led Ronald Reagan to reach out to Gorbachev at Reyjavik Summit to abolish nuclear weapons entirely
Valuethinker
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Valuethinker »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:00 pm
Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:01 pm For folks who have the means to do so, it seems like a no-brainer to flee the area for couple weeks at least.
This is going to last for far longer than a couple of weeks. It's already been a month. I have four portable HEPA filters spaced strategically through the house (one in each bedroom and one in the middle of the main living space). Even with that, my indoor air quality is still getting affected (but partially because I didn't want to climb on the roof to disable the fresh air intake on the HVAC). My cat with lung disease has been struggling even though he's an indoors-only cat, and I can't tell him to sleep next to a HEPA filter, although he did start doing that on his own this week from time to time.

Today is the first day I've seen actual sunlight for a while, and the indoor air quality sensors are showing the trend downwards. I've moved all the house plants to window sills to soak up the sunlight, and maybe I won't need to wear my vented N95 mask while being outside today. It might even make sense to mow the back lawn, which I've been putting off this month while the air quality was bad. Even wearing the vented N95 mask, I didn't want to be outside any longer than necessary.

I also ground myself in the reality that my part of the state has nothing compared to the air quality right next to the fires. The Mammoth Lakes air quality station is still reporting, and I've seen it go above 2000 (I can't even imagine that) at some points during the Creek Fire. It went days in a row with readings above 500, which is off the scale for AirNow.gov. It's getting better today at least: https://www.airnow.gov/?city=Mammoth%20 ... ountry=USA
Spider plants and Jade tree plants are major air cleaners. Not sure of US v UK proper naming.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Mudpuppy »

Valuethinker wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:55 am Spider plants and Jade tree plants are major air cleaners. Not sure of US v UK proper naming.
Spider plants could also be called "cat salads" in my household, unless I hang them out of reach. Also, while the NASA study and follow-up studies to the NASA study did conclude plants can act as air purifiers and which plants work best as purifiers, they were conducted under sealed conditions, like a space station, with optimal growth factors. Refer to pages 14-15 in reference 2 (a survey of studies) in the following Wikipedia article for a clear discussion on why the laboratory science might not translate to real-world results: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

More recent studies have said the average house or office would need an absurdly high plant density to replicate the laboratory results, given the lower light levels, air flow, and other factors in the average home or office. The most recent paper on this topic was published last year: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-019-0175-9. Just in case that's pay-walled, or if you don't feel like reading a full scientific paper, here is the Science Alert summary of that paper: https://www.sciencealert.com/sorry-your ... ny-cleaner

What I draw from this is to have plants for their beauty, and mental health of having greenery around you, but don't expect them to do much in the way of air purification. They might make a fractional improvement in air quality, but a HEPA filter is going to do a whole lot more, particularly a HEPA filter with a carbon/zeolite module to adsorb VOCs and odors.
rj49
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by rj49 »

We just had about 10 days of smoke in WA. I followed Airnow (AQI also shows on iphone weather now), and picked better times for outdoor activity and exercise. In order to minimize exposure, I did a lot of biking, so I got more exercise more quickly than a walk or hike (and double masked to try to keep out particulates). I also live near Puget Sound, so I picked days and times when there was at least a decent breeze along the water and went to waterfront parks. One day I rode the San Juan ferry, to get wind and breezes from the ship, and stopped in a touristy town called La Conner where I could go in and out of shops and galleries with fresher air. On bad days I'd go to the mall, to get clean air and do indoor walking and being around people. I also did some driving around when my house got too smoky, setting the A/C and recirculating inside air. I don't know about CA, but we had a temperature inversion trapping smoke at surface level, whereas mountains were above the smoke level usually, so if you have a safe option to get above the smoke level that might help.

I drive for Uber and Lyft, and I've met several smoke refugees from Oregon, here in Bellingham WA. I notice travel vans all over town now, especially the Mercedes Sprinter vans, many with CA and OR plates--I call them Techie Trailers, alternatives to an RV or hotel lodging. I also meet people coming from extreme heat events in AZ/CA/NV on Allegiant Air during our mild summers. With the Canadian border closed, we're also a favored end point for coastal road trips.

Western Washington is a nice place to visit in Fall, since we have cool air, welcome rain, and lots of beautiful trees turning color. The smoke here finally ended yesterday, settling into the usual pattern of clean air, some rain, most days around 65 and low of 55, and everyone going outside to enjoy outdoor beauty and dining/drinking before cold and dark and heavy rain come in November.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by unclescrooge »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:02 pm
Valuethinker wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:55 am Spider plants and Jade tree plants are major air cleaners. Not sure of US v UK proper naming.
Spider plants could also be called "cat salads" in my household, unless I hang them out of reach. Also, while the NASA study and follow-up studies to the NASA study did conclude plants can act as air purifiers and which plants work best as purifiers, they were conducted under sealed conditions, like a space station, with optimal growth factors. Refer to pages 14-15 in reference 2 (a survey of studies) in the following Wikipedia article for a clear discussion on why the laboratory science might not translate to real-world results: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study

More recent studies have said the average house or office would need an absurdly high plant density to replicate the laboratory results, given the lower light levels, air flow, and other factors in the average home or office. The most recent paper on this topic was published last year: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-019-0175-9. Just in case that's pay-walled, or if you don't feel like reading a full scientific paper, here is the Science Alert summary of that paper: https://www.sciencealert.com/sorry-your ... ny-cleaner

What I draw from this is to have plants for their beauty, and mental health of having greenery around you, but don't expect them to do much in the way of air purification. They might make a fractional improvement in air quality, but a HEPA filter is going to do a whole lot more, particularly a HEPA filter with a carbon/zeolite module to adsorb VOCs and odors.
I cannot recommend a merv 16 air filter for your furnace enough!
TravelGeek
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by TravelGeek »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:00 pm
This is going to last for far longer than a couple of weeks. It's already been a month. I have four portable HEPA filters spaced strategically through the house (one in each bedroom and one in the middle of the main living space). Even with that, my indoor air quality is still getting affected (but partially because I didn't want to climb on the roof to disable the fresh air intake on the HVAC).
I’d probably get my HVAC maintenance guy/gal to look at options to remotely control this. Could be an optional add on as my unit has, or as simple as a remote controllable power outlet. I only had to only get on a ladder in the garage to reach the switch on our air exchange unit, but for next season I will plug the cord from the unit into a ZWave controlled outlet, so I can turn it off even if I am not at home.
Finridge
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Re: Coping with Wildfire smoke

Post by Finridge »

Edited to add: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth at least ten thousand. here is a short 3 1/2 minute video from the University of Michigan Health System explaining the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH5APw_SLUU


This LA Times article explains how to make an effective and economical air purifier-- one that is effective against the dangerous PM 2.5 particles. The design is supported by data. (See the LA Times article.0 It works. And it is very inexpensive.

https://www.latimes.com/environment/sto ... y-purifier

The LA Times article links to these sites:

https://pscleanair.gov/525/DIY-Air-Filter

http://rocis.org/072318-how-assemble-fanfilter

http://rocis.org/072318-how-assemble-fanfilter

Here is the tl;dr version:


1. Get a 20 inch box fan (20 by 20) from Home Depot or some other store. (This is the one I got: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lasko-20-in ... /100405665 Costs about $19).

2. While at Home Depot, also pick up a 20 inch by 20 inch furnace air filter. Be careful to get one that is rated MERV 13 (this is the same as FPR 10). A Honeywell MERV 13 / FPR 10 filter cost me about $20. This is the one I got from Home Depot: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywell-2 ... /303490009 But shop around, it looks like there are normally less expensive options, but they seem to be sold out right now.

3. Get a roll of blue painters paint, or duct tape (if you don't already have this at home.) If you use blue painters tape it will be easier to remove the filter later, so you can use your fan, well, as a fan. I put a couple of pieces on each of the four sides. Be careful not to cover the filtering surface with tape though. I assume even masking tape or scotch tape will work if you use enough.

4. Tape the filter against the FRONT of the fan, so the fan is pushing the air TOWARDS the fan. It will fit perfectly. Use a couple of pieces of tape on each side to hold the filter securely against the fan. On the cardboard edge of the filter, you will see an arrow showing the direction of airflow. Make sure this matches the direction of airflow. from the fan. Since you are putting the filter on the front side of the fan, the arrow should point forwards, away from the fan.

That's it! When the air quality is bad (Check airnow.gov periodically) just keep this running in whatever room you are in (and keep the doors and windows of that room closed.)

If you have a central air system, you should also put a MERV 13 / FPR 10 filter in that as well. And if you circulate the houses air through the fan with this filter, it will also reduce PM 2.5 particles.
Last edited by Finridge on Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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