Up in Smoke: Air purifiers are hard to find across Lehigh Valley retailers
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — In the midst of the massive smoke shroud traversing the Eastern Seaboard, finding an air purifier is tougher than ever in the Lehigh Valley.
Visits to Target on Airport Road, Lowe’s on Martin Court, and Walmart and Home Deport on Bethlehem Square showed bare shelves and anxious customers seeking out the devices early Wednesday evening as air quality levels reached dangerous levels.
- As the smoke from the Canadian wildfires spreads throughout the United States, the Lehigh Valley has been hit hard with dangerous air quality levels
- Air purifiers have sold out at most retailers, including stores such as Target, Walmart, Lowe's and Home Depot
- For those who need some level of protection, you can create your own box fan air purifier with instructions from the University of Washington's website
Employees at the locations said they were unable to officially comment on the matter, but an associate from Lowe’s said the store's supply had quickly sold out over the past two days, with multiple customers and other workers searching desperately for purifiers as even enclosed spaces have seen smoke intrusion.
Stores cleared out
A Target associate said the store had sold out quickly, with a manager announcing the message just moments prior to Bethlehem resident Tyler Geroulo was able to pick up his order.
“Honestly, I just got pretty lucky," Geroulo said. "Initially, I was looking on the Walmart website, and none were available. When I swapped over to Target, this was pretty much the only one in stock.
“I feel a little bad about taking it, but I also have asthma, and my fiancée is immunocompromised, so I don’t want to take any risks with anything.”
“The fact of the matter is we have very little information as to what we should be doing in terms of precautions to prepare ourselves for this current situation. It’s a little unnerving, to say the least.”Freemansburg resident Dominick Medina said as he looked through the aisles at Walmart
At Walmart, shelves were completely cleared out as well. Store staff said they could not comment on when they would get another shipment.
“There doesn’t seem to be any air purifiers,” Freemansburg resident Dominick Medina said as he looked through the aisles.
“The fact of the matter is we have very little information as to what we should be doing in terms of precautions to prepare ourselves for this current situation. It’s a little unnerving, to say the least.”
Stores cleared out
A Home Depot worker said his store sold 12 air purifiers on Wednesday alone, and as far as he knew, there were no more to be found.
While some retailers still show air purifiers available online, shipping dates tend to be later in the week, with some unavailable to ship out until next week.
On Amazon, numerous small home air purifiers show up to 20,000 or more units sold in the past month alone.
But for those seeking out a unit — even a higher-end model such as a Dyson, which can retail for hundreds of dollars or more — are going to have trouble finding anything in the Lehigh Valley for the time being.
If you happen to be in dire straits, the U.S. Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health offers simple instructions for a do-it-yourself box fan air purifier online.
“The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency tested this method with air monitors and found that a box fan filter reduced airborne particulate matter dramatically,” the school’s website states.