Risk and Mitigation of Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire smoke carries microscopic particulate pollution (PM2.5) that can cause severe heart and lung damage, especially when inhaled over extended periods. The risks are high for children, pregnant people, the elderly and those with preexisting heart and lung conditions. PM2.5 can also cause long-term problems for healthy people. Short-term exposure to PM2.5 can lead to heart attack or stroke if you have heart disease.
To avoid inhaling high levels of PM2.5, monitor your local air quality. (For websites, google “Montana air quality.”) When air quality is moderate or worse, (1) limit outdoor exposure, (2) wear an N-95 or P-100 respirator when outdoors, and (3) keep the air in your home clean. Set your air conditioner to recirculate or keep at least one frequently used room clean with an air purifier. You can build an inexpensive air purifier with a 20” box fan, a 20”x20”x2” furnace filter, and a bungee cord or shipping tape. The furnace filter should have a MERV rating of 13. If you purchase an air purifier, be sure that the system will filter particles as small as 2.5 microns, or smaller.