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Air purifiers are devices that can remove particles, including those from smoke, from the air. People living in areas where wildfires are common may benefit from these devices.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tested any of these products. All information presented here is research-based.
Air purifiers are devices that filter small particles from the air. These particles may be from:
Air purifiers usually have one or more filters and a fan, which together circulate and filter the air in a room.
Most devices require new filters after a certain amount of time. Each product’s manufacturer will include information about which filter the device requires in the product manual.
Learn more about air purifiers here.
Research suggests that wildfires lead to an increase in air pollutants. One systematic review found that daily pollution levels during and after wildfires exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations. One pollutant, PM10, was up to 10 times higher as a result of wildfires.
Additionally, over 90% of the studies the researchers reviewed found that wildfire smoke was significantly associated with the risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Children, older adults, and those with chronic conditions seem more likely to develop these conditions.
The EPA states that fine particles from wildfire smoke can enter deep into the lungs. This can cause short- and long-term effects.
Some short-term effects of inhaling wildfire smoke include:
Inhalation of smoke is also linked to premature death.
Learn more about the effects of smoke inhalation here.
The EPA states that the following groups of people are more at risk when inhaling smoke:
- People with heart or lung disease: Wildfire smoke can make the symptoms of heart and lung disease worse, and people may experience chest pain or discomfort and shortness of breath.
- Older adults: Heart and lung disease are more common in older adults.
- Children and teenagers: Asthma is more common in children and teenagers than adults. Additionally, these groups breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults and are more likely to be active outdoors.
- People with diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to have underlying chronic conditions that may become worse after inhaling smoke.
- Pregnant people: Wildfire smoke can cause potential health problems in pregnant people and their babies.
The EPA recommends purchasing an air purifier and taking certain other measures to reduce the effect of wildfire smoke. People should also keep up to date on air quality reports and stay inside if there is smoke in the air.
A 2016 study suggests that high efficiency portable air cleaners can contribute to cleaner private and public indoor spaces. The authors note that particulate air filters and electrostatic precipitators can lower the number of smoke particles indoors and possibly improve respiratory and cardiovascular health.
The EPA recommends that people consider the following factors when purchasing an air filter:
- Clean air delivery rate (CADR): An air filter should have a CADR that is high enough for the room a person intends to use it in.
- Fan speeds and run time: Air filters with higher fan speeds and longer run times will be able to filter more air.
- Filter type: Devices with HEPA filters can remove more, and smaller, airborne particles, while carbon filters can reduce strong odors.
Learn more about HEPA air purifiers here.
The following table describes the EPA’s guidelines for purchasing an air filter that is suitable for different room sizes:
Below are some air purifiers available online that may be beneficial for reducing the effects of wildfire smoke.
Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto
Best for fast filtering
This air purifier is suitable for rooms up to 550 square feet, filtering the air at a rate of five times per hour.
Learn more about Blueair here.
The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto uses a HEPASilent filter and has a three-part filtration system:
- fabric prefilter that captures large particles
- combination particle and carbon filter to capture odors
- particle filter that removes airborne particles
Some additional features of this product include:
- power usage of 4–28W
- 360-degree air intake
- CADR of 353 for smoke
- filter replacement indicator
- three speed options
Blueair offers free shipping, a 60-day returns policy, and a 1-year warranty.
At the time of publishing, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Auto costs $299.99.
Best for smaller rooms
This device is suitable for rooms up to 463 square feet.
The Levoit LV-H135 uses a HEPA filter that traps 99.97% of particles, including dust, pollen, and smoke.
The device has the following features:
- noise level of 26–54 decibels (dB)
- power usage of 40W
- CADR of 212–235
- 360-degree, three-stage filtration system
- LED air quality information display
- timer function
Levoit offers free shipping, a 30-day returns policy, and a 1-year limited warranty.
At the time of publishing, the Levoit LV-H135 costs $249.99.
Alen Breathesmart 75i True HEPA Air Purifier
Best for open concept spaces
This device is suitable for rooms up to 1,300 square feet.
People can choose from four HEPA filters, which remove up to 99.9% of particles:
- Pure: This filter captures allergens, dust, mold, and germs.
- Fresh: This filter captures allergens, dust, mold, germs, cooking odors, smoke, and volatile organic compounds.
- Pet: This filter captures allergens, dust, mold, germs, pet dander, and pet odors.
- Heavy odor: This filter captures allergens, dust, mold, germs, and heavy odors, such as diaper smells.
Additional features of this device include:
- noise level of 25–49 dB
- power usage of 1.8W to 45W
- CADR of 347
- LED display
- automatic fans
The company offers a 1-year warranty. People can upgrade to the company’s forever guarantee by registering their device.
At the time of publishing, the Alen Breathesmart 75i True HEPA Air Purifier costs $749.
Below are some frequently asked questions about air purifiers.
What is the best air purifier for smoke?
The EPA recommends that people purchase air purifiers that use HEPA filters. These filters can remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles, including those from smoke. Some people may wish to purchase a device that also uses a carbon filter, which can help remove smoke odors.
It is important to purchase an air purifier that can filter the air inside a room. People should look at the CADR of an air purifier and the room size the manufacturer suggests.
How often do people need to change filters?
The manufacturer will include information on when to change filters in the user manual. Some devices may have a filter display that alerts people when it needs changing.
It is important to replace filters when the manufacturer recommends. Filters that need changing will not clean the air as well or as efficiently as clean filters.
What else can people do to reduce indoor smoke from wildfires?
The EPA recommends the following actions to help reduce indoor smoke during a wildfire if a person has not received instructions to evacuate:
- keeping windows and doors closed
- using fans and air conditioners to stay cool
- reducing the amount of smoke that comes into the home by using heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems or evaporative coolers
- using a portable air filter
- avoiding activities such as smoking, using gas or wood stoves, spraying aerosol products, and burning candles
- using N95 respirators
- airing out rooms when the air quality improves
Air purifiers may help reduce the harmful chemicals and odors that are indoors during a wildfire. The EPA recommends using air purifiers alongside other methods to reduce the harmful effects of wildfires.
People should stay inside, keep their windows and doors closed, and try to minimize the amount of smoke that comes into the home. If the state or federal government advises evacuation, a person should do so as quickly as possible.