How to build a clean air shelter

A clean air shelter is an indoor space that aims to reduce exposure to air pollution, in this case, particulate matter produced by bushfire smoke. Any reduction in exposure can help reduce symptoms. It is particularly important to avoid or minimise exposure during periods of extreme smoke levels.

To build a clean air shelter:
– Find a room with limited doorways or windows to the outside. Rooms with doors and windows have more ventilation, and are more likely to let polluted air from outside in.
– If you have air conditioning; ensure the setting is switched to ‘recirculate’ so it is not bringing the outside air in.
– A portable air cleaner can help remove particulate matter from the air. Look for an air cleaner which says it filters 95% of particles and has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Be mindful of the room size it claims to filter when purchasing. They are only useful for use in isolated places and not a safeguard covering the whole house. Air cleaners are available from around $100 – $200. Individuals need to consider the costs of trigger reduction products for their individual circumstances.

An alternative to creating a clean air shelter in your home, is seeking refuge in a facility that will provide this, such as shopping centre, cinema, library or museum.
If you need to go outside, face masks (grade P2 or N95) can help filter particles when air quality is poor. You must ensure these are tightly fitted and maintain a seal to be effective. For example, they will not be effective if you have a beard as air will leak around the sides.