Southern California is renowned for its poor air quality. There are many sources of air pollution here, including motor vehicles, industry, seaports, dust, and smoke from wildfires that can drift hundreds of miles. Even if you’re not near a fire zone, busy road, or industrial area, your home can be affected by chemicals and small particles. But you don’t have to let SoCal air quality put your family at risk.
Wildfire smoke appears dense and dark from a distance. It may seem you’re in the clear, but you can breathe it in and not realize it; many of the particles and chemicals aren’t visible to the naked eye. These can cause immediate symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing, irritated eyes, headaches, scratchy throat, dizziness, and chest pain.
Children, the elderly, and people with heart and lung conditions are most vulnerable. But smoke is bad for everyone. Exposure stresses the cardiovascular system, so severe exposure can lead to stroke and heart attack. Your home doesn’t have to be in the path of a wildfire for you and your family to be affected.
You can reduce the risk of air quality issues polluting your home by:
Not all HVAC filters remove the particles found in SoCal air. It’s important to check, clean, and change filters often, but consider installing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for increased protection. Particulate matter can be smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and can reach the deepest parts of the lungs. By comparison, a single human hair is 50 to 70 microns in diameter. A HEPA filter will trap the tiniest particles as air circulates through your heating and cooling system.
Similarly, N95 respirator masks can protect against particulates, smoke, and COVID-19. Wear a mask if you must be outside in smoky or smoggy conditions. It should fit over the nose and under the chin; one strap goes above and one strap goes below the ears. Air should not pull in from the sides when you breathe in (if properly fit, the respirator will collapse as you do).
Closing all your windows is generally effective in keeping out air pollution. However, most homes aren’t perfectly sealed envelopes. So in addition to closing windows, use high-quality filters and fans that boost air circulation in your home.
If your air conditioning system recirculates and filters the air, instead of drawing it in from outside, you can reduce the chances of outdoor pollutants getting in. Close any vents that deliver outdoor air. Turn off the fresh air intake as well. Of course, this only works if the filter is clean, so be sure to replace your HVAC filter often and when it is dirty.
Purchase an air purifier that’s been tested for removing small particles. It should be non-ozone generating and approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Mechanical air cleaners don’t generate ozone or ions and physically filter out the air using pleated or HEPA-style filters. While electronic filters may generate small concentrations of ozone, they can include technologies such as UV light, ionizers, or electrostatic precipitators.
In addition to keeping dirty air out of your home, you can protect yourself from SoCal air quality issues with the following tips:
We offer a range of indoor air quality solutions for Southern California homes and businesses. These protect against particulates, volatile compounds, smoke, and more. When SoCal air quality turns for the worst, you can depend on NexGen to install the highest quality air filters, air cleaners, and air purification systems. We also provide high-quality duct cleaning, air duct sealing, and insulation services. Call 833-729-9735 to learn more.