Experts Suggest Which Mask To Choose During a Wildfire in a Pandemic

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The West Coast in the United States is experiencing a dangerous number of wildfires. The fires are spreading through towns as well as cities near the Inland Northwest; these areas, therefore, are overwhelmed with smoke.

Spokane’s quality of air and that of the areas near it is nearing dangerous levels consistently for the 3rd day yet.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that smoke from these wildfires can harm lungs, cause inflammation to occur in them besides seriously impacting an individual’s immune system. Once this happens an individual in the presence of such quality of air can become susceptible to serious diseases of the lung which include viruses like COVID-19.

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Although masks can be relied upon to limit the transmission of coronavirus, not all can offer full protection against things like smoke from wildfires.

Dr. Anh Nguyen is a senior medical director at Providence. According to Dr. Nguyen things like face-covering made from cloth and surgical masks that aid the limitation of coronavirus transmissions are not capable of filtering apart particles from smoke.

A mask that can filter smoke particles as well as help limit the spread of coronavirus is the N95 mask but since the mask is urgently needed by nurses and doctors during the pandemic, they ought to be saved for them.

Dr. Boris Quennehen is a scientist at Plume Labs. He believes masks that help during contact with polluted air usually have valves that let the breathers exhaled air exit quickly so they can breathe easily, this makes the mask ineffective against viruses because it is made to release unfiltered air into the environment and can potentially release the virus as well. Thus more and more people in the surrounding of the person wearing the mask will be at a risk to the virus.

Also Read: New Research Shows Air Pollution Is One of the Top Causes of Death Worldwide

Since the number of wildfires in the regions is occurring during a situation as grave as the coronavirus pandemic, Plume Labs suggests people opt for FFP2+ masks that do not have valves and thus can help with both concerns.

Dr. Nguyen thinks instead of people opting for N95 masks that have valves, they should use a cloth mask instead as It counts as a good alternative.

Lisa Woodward says these N95 masks are not suitable for all people since they are advised against use by children and are not as successful when used by people who have facial hair and also for those that suffer underlying previous conditions that need health care inspection beforehand.

Since the pandemic is still in full swing and masks are urgently required, masks like N95 including other NIOSH-approved respirators are not available as supplies are finishing. Most of these masks are reserved for people who desperately require it to go to work.

In the wake of an increase in the number of wildfires during the pandemic, CDC advises that people consider staying indoors more and keep an air cleaner that’s portable to maintain healthy levels in the air they are breathing in at their homes.

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