More than 10 million acres were burned in fires throughout the US in 2017, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Besides damaging plant life and buildings, fires can also significantly affect air quality.
In a recent report, NPR explained wildfire-related air quality problems and the financial issues many organizations and households face when needing to buy air cleaners. According to NPR, public health departments are giving greater importance to wildfire-related air quality problems as wildfire seasons increase in duration and intensity.
For instance, at the beginning of last year, Missoula County’s Health Department started collaborating with Climate Smart Missoula to provide HEPA air cleaners to seniors before the beginning of the fire season. By summer, they extended the program to include other at-risk residents. To compare, the department’s earlier approach was to issuing advisories warning.
According to Dan Debelius, Group Analyst at industrial researcher Freedonia, “At risk populations, particularly those with respiratory ailments, like asthma and chronic bronchitis, are susceptible to further health issues if exposed to poor quality air. Air treatment can prove invaluable to these people, as it reduces or even eliminates the source of the problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.”