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Do you need to use an N95 mask in the face of the wildfires and the smoke?

September 5th, 2020

Do you need to use an N95 mask in the face of the wildfires and the smoke?

The recent wildfires in the three western states of Washington, Oregon and California amplified the necessity of having proper masks in abundance for the general public to use in similar situations. Compounded by the shortages due to the COVID19 Pandemic, N95 NIOSH Masks have been sought after for this emergency too. But should we only use N95 masks, or can we use a cloth (or other types of) mask as well?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Even though masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19, not all types of masks can protect you from wildfire smoke. Dust masks, cloth masks/coverings, and surgical masks can slow down the spread of COVID-19, but they will not filter out wildfire smoke particles. These masks, which are designed to filter out large particles, will not help. They still allow the more dangerous smaller particles to pass through. On the other hand, the N95 respirator masks that do filter out smoke are in high demand and mostly used by doctors and nurses. Some doctors even suggest a combination of N95 and cloth masks (N95 mask with valves, covered by a cloth face mask). People with lung disease should take special care when using N95 masks, as these masks can make it more difficult for anyone to breathe and should only be used if you must go outside.

Cloth masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke.

Cloth masks that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 by blocking respiratory droplets offer little protection against wildfire smoke. They do not catch small, harmful particles in smoke that can harm your health.

- CDC WEBSITE

The demand for N95 masks by the public and different agencies has undoubtedly increased in the Western US due to the recent wildfires. At the same time, many are complaining about counterfeit N95 masks that are in the market and which are not NIOSH certified. People should be cautious when shopping for N95 masks. If you are shopping in-person from local stores, make sure that the masks you are purchasing are NIOSH certified and have the TC approved number printed on the masks. If you are shopping online, do your due diligence and make sure that the mask manufacturer is listed on the approved N95 NIOSH manufacturers by CDC/NIOSH. Check out this CDC site for the list of approved manufacturers (both from the US or international ones).

A special note about children: Kids are more susceptible to smoke because their lungs are still developing, and they breathe in more air for their size than adults; hence, they face more pollution. Do not use ordinary N95 masks for children. You must use the small size N95 masks, which are usually designated with an “S” marking, showing that they are built for smaller faces and thus fit properly. Larger N95s will not fit small faces properly and lose their functionality in preventing smoke particles from entering the child’s lungs.

Check out our line of N95 NIOSH approved masks on our store. We have them in stock and available for immediate shipment.

Written by Ab Vand


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