Bad air quality day

You may be aware that there is an air quality advisory out right now from our provincial government. It tells us that the wildfires currently burning in Northern Ontario are causing air pollution levels to rise in many parts of the province. You can get these advisories by signing up via this link.

This latest alert tells us that the AQ levels are at the unhealthy level right now in many areas across Ontario including here in Ottawa. It also tells us to stay inside and not to exert ourselves physically too much.

I've got our AQ monitor, the Air Quality Egg, going inside my house at this moment and getting particle emissions, denoted as PM 2.5 readings, in the 50 range, about the highest level I've seen since starting our project last year. Outside readings on the Egg are even higher, currently at 63. According to official sources, like the World Health Organization, prolonged exposure a level of PM 2.5 at 10 or more is unhealthy with the higher it goes, the worse it is. Health Canada has a similar target level. All sorts of health conditions like asthma, heart issues, and allergies can get worse when air quality is at this level for a long time.

I've got a little experiment going to try to reduce the bad air quality inside. Using a homemade device with parts that I bought this morning from Canadian Tire, I am trying to reduce the air pollution inside my home. It consists of a 20x20 inch box fan, a high quality 20x20 furnace fan, and some masking tape to attach the filter to the inlet side of the fan. A photo is attached.***

This 'device' is based on a CBC Marketplace program that aired this past February. Here's the link.
The program claims that this homemade kit can be as effective as a $800 air purifier that's currently on the market. My little experiment may support this, or not.

I'll keep you informed of my results. Meanwhile, you should try to follow the recommendations from our federal and provincial government like this current one that came out this morning.

Stay safe (in more ways than one)

- Jake Cole

*** Disclaimer: There a number of things to keep in mind if you opt to use a homemade box fan air filter. Please click here to read about their limitations and potential risks. 


July 27: I wanted to update you on our air quality 'event' yesterday. I notice that the air quality statement has ended as per this email that I received early this morning from Environment Canada and the Province of Ontario. 

"Smoke is no longer expected or has moved out of the area. Special air quality statement ended. The latest status and details on all alerts, including alerts that are not part of your subscription, can be found here:"

So, here inside my house with my home made air purifier still running with our windows closed, the PM 2.5 readings are now between .1 and .2. Outdoor is about 20. Going on the site and clicking on "Pollutant Concentrations", I see that as of 7:00am this morning, Ottawa is showing PM 2.5 at 5.

Yesterday, inside my house, PM 2.5 readings were in the 50 range. I set up and turned on the air purifier device in the morning with all windows closed.  PM 2.5 readings went down all day to about 8 by 11:00pm.

OK maybe too soon to tell but it looks like this homemade air purifier is working well. If you would like to make your own, (took about 20 minutes) here are the components that I bought at Canadian Tire yesterday for $93.76 with tax.***  

1. For Living 20" Box Fan    043 5210-2

2.  Filtrete 1900 furnace filter 20 inch by 20 inch, 2-pack  399-8274-2

3. Scotch masking tape 049-7018-4

Quite simple to put together as you can see from the CBC Marketplace episode.

I hope this is useful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them along to:

- Jake Cole

*** Disclaimer: There a number of things to keep in mind if you opt to use a homemade box fan air filter. Please click here to read about their limitations and potential risks. 

Photo Credit: Ottawa's hazy downtown skyline, taken from the hill on 417 highway just East of Kanata, at 7:00am on August 7.

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