The 2018 California Fires’ Impact on Building Health

The recent California fires created a statewide impact that stretched well beyond it’s flames. When disasters like fires spread smoke to cities miles away, we typically trust the indoors (such as our homes and workplaces) as a safe haven. Unfortunately, fine particles, smoke and chemicals from the fires easily penetrated businesses and homes across the state. Across California business and homes, Awair sensors saw an over 1800% increase in harmful fine dust (PM2.5)

California Indoor Fine Dust Levels (PM2.5)

How did this happen?

  • For many businesses, indoor air quality degradation was the worst during the transient hours (morning, lunch, and early evening). Employees entering the building exposed its indoor air to the outdoor pollution, notably impacting the air throughout the day.
  • “Is my filtration system effective?” In some cases, the answer was “no,” especially for the level of smoke the common filtration system is able to handle.
  • Certain areas (such as lobbies, atriums, etc.) were impacted worse than others. Unfortunately, the polluted air can spread throughout the rest of the building relatively quickly.

How can you keep your building healthy?

Many of our partners are utilizing their air quality data from Awair to develop policies for events like these moving forward:

  • Office Closures: When the office air contains a certain threshold PM2.5, they will shut down the office and encourage WFH.
  • Masks: Some companies will start providing N95 or N99 masks in the office to aid in transit to and from the building.
  • Improved Filtration Systems: HVAC systems are expensive, and when put to the test, they must provide a promised safe environment for employees.
  • Balance: Some buildings shut off air intake as a measure to reduce PM2.5. With Awair, they are also able to monitor the inevitable increase in CO2. Striking a balance between the two is essential to making sure employees and tenants are safe and comfortable.
  • Supplementary Purifying: Adding on-floor purifiers can assist the building HVAC system while giving visual reassurance to your employees that the air is safe.

Our mission is to empower you with the tools you need to keep your employees and projects safe and healthy. If you’d like a consultation for how your business can best prepare for air quality events in the future, please reach out to us at business@getawair.com