On a regular basis, you should…
If you have an HVAC system, replace your air filter every 3 months:
Air filters run the scale from MERV 1-18. The higher the MERV, the smaller the particles it can capture. If you want to capture the very fine particulates that are most damaging to our health, you’ll need at least MERV 11. It’s important to note, the higher the MERV, the harder it is for your furnace to pull air through the filter. You’ll have to find the right balance for your HVAC system. See a description of MERV ratings here.
Filters can be found online or at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc. Make sure you buy the right size for your system (measure before you go to the store) . They can cost anywhere from $5-15. We suggest you call or check online for pricing and availability ahead of time.
Check and Potentially Replace Your Car’s Air Filter
To protect your car or truck’s cabin air, you should replace its filter regularly. The location and recommended filter type can be found in the owner’s manual or online. Most filters are available at auto parts stores or through your mechanic.
Invest in an Air Purifier for Your Home
Portable air cleaners may be moved from room to room and used when continuous and localized air cleaning is needed.
HEPA is the Best for PM2.5
(Winter-time pollution): Any filter that is of HEPA quality will capture the fine particles. The unit will need a fan or some mechanism that pulls air in and out of the machine. Pay attention to how the product defines HEPA; “HEPA Type” is not true HEPA. Filters must be changed regularly to maintain their effectiveness.
Activated Carbon is Good for Ozone
(Summer-time pollution):Filters with an activated carbon layer can remove 60-70% of ozone pollution in the home.
They can create ozone. Ionizers change the electromagnetic charge of particles so the filtration unit can more easily capture the pollution. However, electromagnetically charged particles can damage lungs, and, if an oxygen molecule bonds with two others, it becomes O3, or ozone. Ozone can irritate airways and exacerbate breathing-related problems.
Avoid or turn off UV Lights
Most UV light cleaners are ozone-free and will not damage lungs, but they do not kill pathogens as well as they say they do, if at all. Some of these technologies produce high volumes of ozone, so it is best to avoid air filters with this technology, or turn the feature off.
You can find purifiers online at Amazon.com or online/in-person at Target, Walmart, Lowes, Best Buy, etc. Ensure the product has a real HEPA filter and does not have an ionizer. You will most likely have to pay at least $55 for a good device.
Learn More about air filtration devices here.
During periods of bad air…
Do not exert yourself outside. Keep children inside as much as possible.
If you must go outside, protect yourself
High levels of air pollution have been shown to affect developing immune systems in young people and cause everyone, especially older people, to be less able to resist infections like flu or pneumonia. High particle pollution is also known to trigger heart attack and stroke in susceptible individuals.
A cotton handkerchief will block approximately 30% of the particles. A surgical mask will block approximately 80%.
The best masks are the N95 masks used by painters and landscapers (shown above) which block 98-99% of particles. You can find these at any hardware store. One mask should be $3 or less. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk.
Do Not Burn Wood
Not burning is the single greatest thing you can do to protect the air and your neighbors’ health. One in five people in the San Joaquin Valley have asthma and one in four have high blood pressure . Your smoke could trigger an asthma attack or stroke in someone on your street! At the very least, some of your neighbors will not be able to walk outside or even leave their home if you’re burning.
When the air is bad, no one should be burning. Report residential or agricultural burning.
Avoid Smoking Anything
Your lungs were not made to breath anything but clean air.
Please give them a break.