It seems as though natural disasters are on the rise when reading the headlines or listening to the new. As you can imagine, natural disasters not only put your immediate safety and valuable assets at risk, but also your health. A large reason why natural disasters impact your health is by reducing the air quality.
How Natural Disasters Negatively Impact Air Quality
Natural disasters negatively impact air quality in different ways, depending upon the type of natural disaster.
Consider some of the latest hurricanes that have moved through various parts of the US. Spilled toxic waste and chemical leaks following the hurricane in Houston, for example, left high levels of benzene in the air – a chemical byproduct of oil refineries. The level of benzene was so high that specialized breathing equipment would have been warranted.
When flooding hits, the earth’s sediments, sand, and moisture can quickly make their way into buildings and homes. This can lead to mold growth, which can be toxic for humans.
Your HVAC system can also be affected during a flood. The moisture and water can contaminate the filtration system with a lot of dirt and debris, which prevents proper ventilation. However, that’s only part of the problem. Sewage and toxic waste can also directly enter buildings and homes and impact air quality exponentially.
In the case of wildfires, the rising smoke produces a lot of emissions and carcinogens, from burning matter into carbon monoxide.
Earthquakes, for example, can cause ground, air, and water pollution. This is especially true if buildings collapse at the same time. Earthquakes can also influence indoor air quality via broken gas lines. For this reason, if you happen to smell gas in your building or home, it’s important to shut off the main gas line and open your windows immediately.
The chemicals that are often used to clean up after a natural disaster can also leave volatile chemical compounds in the air.
Solutions To Protect Your Health
After a natural disaster, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from poor air quality. Here are some solutions:
In the case of heavy smoke, it’s important to stay indoors, close your windows, and run your air conditioner. Use your portable air filter if you have one and consider wearing a N95 respirator if you’re doing any work
Take care of any standing water after a flood
Clean your HVAC system and change your air filters following any natural disaster; opt for a HEPA air filter. In the case of a flood, your HVAC system should be cleaned by a professional, especially if it was submerged in water
APC Filtration has been working in air filter design, engineering, manufacturing and testing for industrial, commercial and household equipment for over 35 years.