Scientists map changes in soot particles emitted from wildfires
The main light-absorbing substance released by the fire, in granular form, is black carbon or soot. Black carbon is a fine particulate matter that is created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biomass, and biofuels. It is highly absorptive of solar radiation and can remain in the atmosphere for days to weeks before being removed by precipitation or deposition.
When black carbon is released into the atmosphere through burning biomass or fossil fuels, it can contribute to the warming of the climate by absorbing sunlight and converting it into heat energy. Black carbon can also darken snow and ice surfaces, causing them to absorb more sunlight and melt faster, leading to further warming.
In addition to its impact on the climate, black carbon can also have negative effects on human health, causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and can damage crops and ecosystems.
Air filters can be helpful in mitigating the effects of wildfire smoke on indoor air quality. Wildfires release a variety of harmful particles and gases, including fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds.
Air filters can help to remove these harmful pollutants from indoor air, thereby reducing the health risks associated with exposure to wildfire smoke. However, it's important to note that not all air filters are created equal, and some may be more effective than others in capturing the smallest and most harmful particles.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are considered the gold standard for air filtration and are designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Some air purifiers also come equipped with activated carbon filters, which can help to remove gases and odors.
It's important to use air filters properly to ensure they are effective. This may include running them continuously, changing the filters regularly, and positioning them strategically in the home to maximize their efficiency. Additionally, air filters alone may not be sufficient to protect against the health effects of wildfire smoke, and it's important to also follow recommendations from public health officials, such as staying indoors as much as possible and avoiding outdoor exercise during times of high smoke levels.