Where There's Smoke, There's Fire (and Vice Versa)


As I sat on my patio in Denver thinking of what to write for this month’s post I found myself coughing as a result of the smoke which has been blown in from distant forest fires over the past few weeks…instantly a topic came to mind. The smoke released by most fires is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. This smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, chemicals, and particulate matter. Exposure to smoke should be avoided as inhaling it for even a short time can cause acute effects including irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, and temporary changes in lung function which makes breathing more difficult. Two of the major agents in smoke that can cause adverse health effects are carbon monoxide gas and very small particles. Your buildings HVAC system can be effective at helping get rid of these by extracting gasses and particles from the air, making it cleaner and safer to breath. Traditional air filters can be somewhat effective depending on the efficiency of filter installed. Combining filtration with air-ionization, a technology which imparts a small electrical charge to the particles in the air, makes their removal even easier. By polarizing particles (both positively and negatively) it converts them into tiny magnets which then “stick” to one another through electrostatic attraction…remember opposites attract. The small smoke particles become larger through what is called agglomeration and made easier for HVAC system filters of any efficiency to remove from the air.