October 24, 2022
Grovpure is extremely excited to work with the Oregon Health Authority to provide air purifiers to Oregon residents who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of wildfire smoke.
The summer of 2020 broke records in terms of wildfires in Oregon. Flames destroyed approximately 4,000 homes and 1 million acres of land. Smoke entered homes and lungs in every corner of the state.
Oregon lawmakers responded by funding air purifiers for people in communities where wildfires are common. With $4.7 million, Oregon has purchased 5,000 new home air purifiers. The purifiers will be distributed to selected homes, primarily along the California border where communities historically experience 20 or more days of “unhealthy” air from wildfire smoke per year.
To further reach people who most need protection against wildfire smoke in high-risk regions, the state identified Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members who have been diagnosed with chronic heart, lung or cerebral vascular (strokes) conditions. These conditions can be worsened by exposure to wildfire smoke.
Many masks cannot filter out the effects of wildfires unless they are N95 for better. For indoor spaces, it is recommended that individuals create a "clean space" for their families by incorporating air conditioning to remove humidity and a portable air purifier, like the Aspen, to remove particulate matter.
Smoke from wildfires contains thousands of individual compounds, including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. The most prevalent pollutant by mass is particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, roughly 50 times smaller than a grain of sand. Its prevalence is one reason health authorities issue air quality warnings using PM 2.5 as the metric.
A study on smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire found dangerous levels of lead in smoke blowing downwind as the fire burned through Paradise, California. The metals, which have been linked to health harms including high blood pressure and developmental effects in children with long-term exposure, traveled more than 150 miles on the wind, with concentrations 50 times above average in some areas.
The human body is equipped with natural defense mechanisms against particles bigger than PM2.5. If you have ever coughed up phlegm or blown your nose after being around a campfire and discovered black or brown mucus in the tissue, you have witnessed these mechanisms firsthand.
Extremely small particles bypass these defenses and disturb the air sacs where oxygen crosses over into the blood. Fortunately, humans have specialized immune cells present called macrophages. It’s their job to seek out foreign material and remove or destroy it. However, studies have shown that repeated exposure to elevated levels of wood smoke can suppress macrophages, leading to increases in lung inflammation.
Dose, frequency and duration are important when it comes to smoke exposure. Short-term exposure can irritate the eyes and throat. Long-term exposure to wildfire smoke over days or weeks, or breathing in heavy smoke, can raise the risk of lung damage and may also contribute to cardiovascular problems. Considering that it is the macrophage’s job to remove foreign material – including smoke particles and pathogens – it is reasonable to make a connection between smoke exposure and risk of viral infection.