Pixel Tracker

Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 2:55 am | Fair 45º

 
 
 
Noozhawk Asks: Information + Inspiration for Santa Barbara County

Noozhawk Asks: How Effective Are HEPA Filters to Protect Our Lungs from Thomas Fire Smoke Particles?

Santa Barbara-area reader Kristen Kovacs wants recommendations on how to use one as unhealthy air quality continues for southern Santa Barbara County

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Question: Regarding HEPA air filters for homes, how effective are they in protecting our lungs from smoke particulates? Any recommendations on how to use them? 

— Santa Barbara-area resident Kristen Kovacs

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials say the Thomas Fire has caused the worst air quality ever recorded, prompting handouts of N-95 masks and recommendations for people to leave town or stay inside, if possible. 

The masks are disposable and easy to use, just make sure they have an airtight seal around the face, officials say. 

To get more information regarding the use of HEPA filters, I went to the Public Health Department and Air Pollution Control District for answers, including Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean and APCD spokeswoman Lyz Hoffman.  

They suggest creating a "clean air room" in your residence by purchasing an air cleaner with a HEPA air filter and putting into a designated room. The devices should say what square-foot area they work for, and are available online if local stores are out of stock. 

Adding to that, having one room with clean air gives lungs a break, and using a bedroom means sleeping in clean air, Dean said at Tuesday's community meeting at San Marcos High School.

To keep more unhealthy air out, people can try to create seals by placing towels under doors and tape around windows if they are letting in air. 

Dean said to qualify as HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, they need to remove 99.97 percent of large and fine particles, down to size of 0.3 microns. 

If people aren't able to purchase a HEPA filter, or feel like indoor air quality still isn't healthy, they should consider leaving the area until air quality improves, if possible, Public Health officials have said. 

They also caution people not to start cleaning up ash yet, since it's still falling.

Santa Barbara County does have tips for cleaning ash, like avoiding skin contact and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter for indoor areas.

"Please do not use leaf blowers," Dean noted.

She also reminded people that it's the tiny, invisible particles that are harmful, not necessarily the visible smoke and ash in the air and on the ground. 

Check daily air quality here, along with a smoke forecast.

Click here for current N-95 mask distribution sites and information about wearing them correctly. ​

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Noozhawk Asks Sponsors

Noozhawk wishes to thank our Hawks Club members for their generosity and willingness to make Noozhawk Asks a reality.

It’s not too late to get your name on this list. If you would like to make a contribution, please contact publisher Bill Macfadyen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.456.7195. Contributions to Noozhawk are not tax-deductible.

Thank you.

Suzie & Fred Allen

Katy Bazylewicz

Casey Bemis

Jean Blois

Ri-Pen Chou

Jeff DeVine

Brian Fahnestock

Judy Frost

Michael Gartzke

Marilyn Gilbert

Wesley Ginther

Stephanie Gombrelli

Patricia Griffin

Hib Halverson

Ed Heron

Bonnie and Richard Jensen

Danny Langhorne

Sofie Langhorne

Colin Macfadyen

Kirsten Macfadyen

Alixe Mattingly

Sheila & Frank McGinity

Kathleen Meehan

Kristen Miller

Bree Morris

Paula Patrick

Ed Seaman

Elizabeth Tilton

Kyra Turner

Scott Van Horn

Noozhawk’s note: Several dozen readers requested anonymity with their contributions.