Jun 23, 2023

As smoke spreads, experts say a DIY air purifier can help

With hazardous air quality in much of Western Oregon, access to clean air is more important than ever.

EUGENE, Ore. – Wildfires continue to spread across the Cascades, bringing smoke and hazardous air with them.

Air purifiers are one method to get clean air, experts say. They are found in many name-brand stores, but it also easy to build one yourself. All you need is a box fan, an air filter, and some tape.

HVAC technician Justin Sexton from Perfect Climate Mechanical demonstrated how to construct an at-home air purifier.

All you do is grab the fan, line the arrows on the filter up with the back of the fan so the arrows are facing down, and tape the filter to the fan. The fan can then be placed in any room and will filter out the toxic particulate matter that comes with smoke.

All of the materials for a DIY air purifier can come out to less than $30.

When looking for filters, Sexton said to look for ones that are labeled ‘MERV-13.’ This means that it has the highest efficiency when it comes to filtering out harmful particles.

The increase in wildfire smoke over the past few years can cause toxins to build up in the body and cause short-term and long-term health effects.

One common mistake experts said people make was remembering to maintain your filter.

“These systems were designed to move air,” Sexton said. "And if filters are not maintained properly and frequently, the air gets stuck and the filter can’t do its job.

Officials said we need to start treating air as we would water, and said having access to clean air is just as important as having access to clean water.

All you need for an at-home air purifier is a box fan, a filter, and some tape.

Lada Korol, a representative for Vollara, said that in these times it is essential to get your hands on even just the bare minimum when it comes to clean air.

“Air sanitizers, any purifiers, air scrubbers, whatever you can get your hands on, get something because it’s you, it’s your family, it’s your pets, it’s your lungs,” Koral said.

In the meantime, experts encourage people to wear masks, stay hydrated, and stay cool.

Jennifer Singh joined the KEZI 9 News team in July 2023 as a news reporter. If you have any story ideas for Jennifer, you can email her at [email protected].

As wildfires continue to burn, community members are stepping up to help those on the front lines and those forced out of their homes.