What Are Air Filters? Why Are They Important?

Air filters help keep the air inside your home clean during wildfires and seasonal allergies. In only a few steps, you can create an effective and affordable air filter.

Notice: 350 Air filters workshops are brought to you and funded by the Sacramento Air Quality Mangement District, as a pass-through for the Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) program; an innovative program that allows organizations to convert their air quality fines into funding for local air quality improvement projects. These DIY projects are being created in response to how climate change impacts our communities.

A group of people working on air filters

350 Sacramento hosts both distribution and construction events for air filters!

august complex fire raging over mountains in the distance

The August Complex Fire of 2020, which burned a little north of Sacramento. Source: U.S. Forest Service

How DO Wildfires Connect to Climate Change?

Fossil fuels are used to power many of our everyday things including lights, cars, and factories. The use of these fossil fuels creates greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and toxic particulate matter.

The greenhouse gasses released into our atmosphere trap heat, and since there are so many GHGs in the atmosphere, they trap a huge quantity of heat. This creates what we know as climate change, where weather patterns become more intense.

Climate change also results in increased temperatures during the spring and summer, which leads to drier soils (drought). Hot, dry conditions make wildfires extremely likely to be intense. So…

That’s how wildfires are connected to climate change. As weather patterns become more intense and temperatures rise, our environment becomes drier, leading to more intense and long lasting wildfires.


How can you protect yourself from wildfires?

  • Stay inside, with all windows and doors closed.
    • This simple practice of closing doors and windows limits your exposure to harmful particulates created by the smoke.
    • If you have central air conditioning, set your system to “on”. This helps filter the air in your home!
    • Avoid participating in or limit activities that increase pollutants in your home, including running a gas stove or vacuuming.
  • Visit clean air centers throughout the city: Sacramento has clean air centers that provide relief from the wildfires once dangerous air quality levels have been reached. You can visit the Sacramento Air Quality Management District website to find a center.
  • Wear an N-95 Mask: A National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) approved N-95 mask can help filter out harmful particulate matter if you have to leave your home for work or errands. It is very important for pregnant women and the elderly to wear these masks. You will need to ensure the mask is NIOSH approved and fits correctly. You can find more information about N-95 masks and fitting them here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/use-n95-respirator.html
A group of people working on air filters
Fellows tabling at a Wide Open Walls event with air filters

Our volunteers are dedicated to helping you get an air filter!

Get an air filter at one of our distribution events!

Come To One of Our Events!

Our next event: 

Sac Clean Air Celebration 
April 29th 
Fern Bacon Middle School 
  • Take a tour of Sacramento's brand new portable air monitoring lab
  • Learn about air quality in our community and how to protect your family's health
  • Free food and kid's activities
  • Free ice cream while supplies last
  • Free DIY air filter while supplies last
350 Sacramento has distributed over 500 air filters to local low-income families speaking over a dozen different first languages.  Please join us for a finale celebration at the Sac Clean Air Celebration with the Sac Metro Air District and Sac Clean Air.

Request a Distribution Event Near You

Check Out These Resources!

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Bad air quality impacts our lungs, and can make chronic conditions such as asthma even worse. At the worst level, it can cause heart failure and even death. The EPA is the body that governs air quality at a national level.
  2. American Lung Association: Particulates you inhale can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, coughing, bronchitis, and colds.
  3. Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. If you are immunocompromised or have health conditions these can be exacerbated.
  4. Infographic with information on wildfires! 

Monitor air quality

The U.S. air quality index (AQI) is pretty simple! The higher the number on the AQI means there is more pollution, and subsequently greater health concerns.

  • Good air quality: AQI 50 or below.
  • Moderate: 51-100
  • Unhealthy for sensitive groups: 101-150
  • Unhealthy: 151-200
  • Very unhealthy: 201-300
  • Hazardous: 301 and higher

Air Quality Booklet by the EPA

How does this relate to Sacramento? We have our own Sacramento Air Quality Management District!