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Let’s talk about air quality

Some of you may monitor our Air Quality Monitor: https://www.airnow.gov/international/us-embassies-and-consulates/. Our bad air season begins now through March.

To help make good decisions about outdoor activities, here’s a helpful chart that correlates with the colors on our graphic:



Indoor air quality also matters

All of you should have two (2) room air filters, one for the bedroom and another for your living space.

The filters need a little bit of care and feeding:

· Vacuum the outside vents monthly

· Remove the pre-filter at least quarterly. Turn the unit upside down, remove 4 screws, remove the cap, remove the outer lining, the pre-filter. It is white material between the metal box and the cylindrical HEPA filter; it may be grey or black by now; it becomes a long rectangle when out of the box. Here are instructions: https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+change+austin+healthmate+air+filter&oq=youtube+change+austin+healthmate+air+filter&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i64.7743j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_dubIX6qcJ8O4gge4r42gBg15

· The central filter should be changed every 5 years and ours are still younger

· If your pre-filter is dirty, you have 3 choices

o Submit a MyServices Expendables request and ask for a replacement

o Vacuum it lightly

o (not approved but can be done) Wash it gently in cold water, dry thoroughly


We’ve talked a lot about air quality but not about humidity. Humidity is 10-20% these days in Bamako. Comfort range is 40-60%. Our ability to combat viral and bacterial pathogens is optimized in the comfort range.

· If dry air is a problem for you, we recommend nasal saline spray at least 5x a day and you should also think about getting a humidifier

· Room humidifiers are not standard issue from GSO Bamako but decent ones are <$100 online

· The problem is that some humidifiers breed pathogens if not cared for well.

· Bottom line: you want a steam or evaporative humidifier. The ultrasonic or nebulized versions can spread bacteria and minerals.

· Optimally, use distilled water.

· Here’s a good review: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-humidifier/; I also pasted below a page from 2018 Consumer Reports

· I looked on 220-electronics.com but they only have an ultrasonic one, which needs a lot more maintenance to avoid bacterial overgrowth.

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