City and state officials have been clear about guidance to help New Yorkers protect themselves against air pollution caused by the wildfires in Canada that have overwhelmed the tri-state area.
It’s pretty simple. Avoid going outside when possible and cover up when you do go out.
However, keeping the air quality inside your home or office at safe and healthy levels is a bit more complicated.
what you need to know
- According to experts, keeping the air quality inside your home or office at safe and healthy levels may depend on how old or new the building you’re in is.
- Most experts agree that newer buildings with a central air system provide the most protection.
- Older buildings with natural ventilation systems offer some protection, but not as much.
- No matter how new or old your building is, experts agree that everyone should isolate living spaces from outside air by keeping windows and doors closed during the air quality crisis. Use towels to block any gaps that allow air to pass through
Experts say this depends on the building you are in. Most agree that newer buildings with a central air system provide the most protection.
“Central air where the building keeps track of the filters and makes sure they are replaced regularly with a high-quality filter,” said Steven Chillrud, the Lamont Research Professor at University of California’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Columbia. “So not all central air conditioning systems are removing the filters.”
Chillrud said that older buildings with natural ventilation systems offer some protection, but not as much.
“Outdoor levels are reduced by 20 to 50% just by going indoors,” he said. “Even in these older apartments.” No matter how new or old your building is, experts agree that everyone should insulate their living space from outside air by keeping windows and doors closed. Use towels to block gaps that allow air to enter.
Holger Eisl, Lamont Research Associate Professor at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College, said while windows and doors are closed, avoid lighting an open flame, such as gas stoves or candles, which can create more pollution.
“Once you have an open flame, you’re generating oxides of nitrogen, you’re generating carbon monoxide, certain levels of particulates,” Eisl said.
Both professors agree that one of the best lines of defense against indoor pollution is a quality air purifier.
“If you buy one big enough, during the day you can put it in your living room and at night, once you go to the bedroom, put it in the bedroom,” Eisl said.
Other methods to purify the air inside your home include:
- Wear a mask indoors if you don’t have an air purifier.
- Wash and change air conditioning filters frequently.
- Buy an inexpensive sensor to monitor the air quality in your home.
Experts agree that you can also prepare for a similar disaster in the future by making home improvements now if you can, replacing old windows and doors and replacing gas stoves with electric stoves, for example.
According to the real estate website, Street Easy, several apps, including BreezoMeter and Plume Lab’s Air Report, can also help you monitor the air quality in your home.
Plants are another option to purify indoor air as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.