September 8, 2023

As most of us are already aware, increasing wildfire activity is negatively affecting the quality of the air we breathe. As we entered September, air quality in Calgary and Edmonton continued to set new records for “smoke hours,” counted by the haze density surrounding the cities. 2023 has been heralded as the worst year on record for wildfires in Canada, and it is expected to only get worse. In fact, estimates predict that they could increase as much as 25% by 2030. The fine particles from wildfire smoke that we breathe in from the air are known to contain the most harmful pollutants to our health and can infiltrate our indoor air quality.

guelph homeowners attention wildfires

Poor Air Quality Puts Your Family At Risk 

Environment Canada advises us to avoid prolonged periods outside when the threat of wildfire smoke enters our area. However, these particles are also small enough to seep into our homes.  

Poor air quality in public places such as schools and office buildings has already been linked to health issues, resulting in poor productivity, a decrease in attendance, and strained relationships with peers. For those with existing health conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the risks are much higher with prolonged exposure to pollutants from smoke, in some recent cases even resulting in death. 

So, what can you do to protect yourself and the loved ones in your home from the health risks associated with smoke? 

Recommended Protection For Indoor Air 

Air purification filters that are used in furnaces and air conditioning units are known to provide protection against pollutants in the home, but it is argued that the current recommendations are insufficient to provide protection from wildfire smoke. 

The standard recommended electrostatic filter, also known as a MERV-8, protects against dust and other airborne particles such as hair, pet fur, and dirt, but experts say that it does not provide a high enough level of protection against the intense pollutants emitted from wildfires. Due to the increasing threat of increasing wildfire activity, Health Canada is now advising indoor air filtration systems to have a minimum efficiency reporting value of 13 _ termed MERV-13, to have adequate protection. 

How To Prep Your Home For Wildfires

You can start by unplugging the HRV (heat recovery ventilator) or ERV (energy recovery ventilator) when your area is under an air quality advisory for wildfire activity. You can keep your windows closed. You should also check that your furnace filter is clean. However, a proper air purification system combined with an effective electrostatic filter such as a MERV-13 or higher is your best defense against the harmful pollutants caused by wildfire smoke. 

You invest a lot into heating and cooling the air in your home. Since the threat of wildfire smoke produces pollutants that you do not want to breathe, now more than ever, you need an effective filtration system to clean these irritants from the air. 

Our systems are only installed and serviced by licensed professionals. We back our equipment with labour warranties because we take pride and confidence in our work. With almost two decades of experience providing residential services in Guelph, we continue to provide quality care in the area.

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality for Health & Well-being   

You can use the air quality health index to monitor your communities’ air. Air filtration systems are becoming more popular as people try to protect themselves from smoke and other pollutants. Poor indoor air quality affects everyone’s health and well-being, but the pollutants that come from wildfires are especially concerning for those with existing health conditions such as asthma, inflammation, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as it has recently been announced that wildfire smoke contains the most harmful pollutants to our health. 

HRVS Keep Pollutants Out 

If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, there are some indoor air solutions that you can explore. One option to consider is investing in an air purifier, although before you do that, you might want to investigate a more effective solution that can be added to your existing HVAC system. An HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) is an excellent choice for this purpose, as it uses heat and energy recovery to replace stale air in your home with fresh, filtered air from outside. This is done through the heat exchange process that keeps your home at a comfortable temperature. Also, HRVs come equipped with filters that work to remove pollutants from outside. 

If you already have an HRV installed, it may be worth considering the type of filter you have chosen for your system. The quality of filtration your HRV provides can be impacted by the type of filter you use, so it is important to choose wisely.

family running into their home excited about better indoor air quality with air purification

Improving Indoor Air Quality Through Filtration 

While good ventilation helps lower humidity and minimize the risk of mold and mildew, the level of filtration determines how clean and healthy the outdoor air is coming in. The type of MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) filter has a lot to do with this.  

Health Canada has recently revised its guidelines regarding air filters. They now suggest that we increase our MERV value to at least 13 to adequately protect ourselves against harmful pollutants from wildfire smoke. The old standard MERV-8 filter is no longer sufficient, as it was designed to filter indoor air pollutants such as dust, pet hair, and dirt. 

It is important to understand that the MERV value of a filter determines its ability to capture smaller types of particles. A MERV 8 filter can capture between 20% and 70% of particles, with a higher percentage for larger particles. On the other hand, a MERV 13 filter can trap up to 50% of the smaller particles, such as those found in wildfire smoke. If you are at a higher risk of exposure to pollutants, a MERV 16 filter can provide up to 95% protection against fine particles. For the utmost protection, a HEPA (High efficiency Particulate Air filter) is your best bet as it can capture up to 99.97% of particles in the 0.3-micron range. 

Considering Upgrading Your Filtration System? 

Hy-Mark specializes in cutting-edge air quality improvements to help you and your family feel comfortable at home. When it is time to install the perfect air quality system, we partner with leading manufacturers of highly engineered products, to help you maximize comfort in your home. 

After installation, we will be there to take care of your equipment for years to come. Our popular Maintenance Programs will extend the lifetime of your equipment and keep your warranties valid. 

With nearly two decades of experience providing residential services in Guelph, Hy-Mark continues to provide quality care in the area. Contact us today at (226) 917-2686

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