Should You Wear a Mask for Wildfire Smoke?

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mask for pollution
Image: ResproPolska (pixabay license)

Wearing a face mask or covering is one of the essential steps of the prevention of the coronavirus infection. Not only can a mask help a person avoid catching the virus but also from spreading it further to other people. Recently, one of the most popular questions asked by people is regarding the use of a mask for pollution.

At the moment, the US is not only dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic but also the issue of climate change and its apparent effects in the form of an increase in wildfires.

The frequency of wildfires in the Western world has increased in the past few years. Environmental scientists and experts have linked to the issue of climate change and environmental degradation while uring governments of major economies around the world to take fast action on the issue, which can worsen further over time.

The recent wildfires in the US are not only harmful to the environment but can also pose challenges for people in the form of increased air pollution. For instance, the air in the state of California has become so toxic that there have been reports of common birds dying due to it.

Due to bad and possibly dangerous air quality, people are advised to stay indoors and avoid public spaces. Increased exposure to toxic air can not only make breathing difficult but also pave the way for lung disease and have long term consequences on health.

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However, for the majority of the adults, going outdoors is essential for work or simply to perform daily chores. Therefore, health experts have suggested a step similar to one given at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic – wear a face covering.

Wearing a face mask for pollution is a common practice around the world and especially in the world’s most polluted cities. Fortunately, most people are now already familiar with the practice due to the guidelines on coronavirus infection.

A mask is not fundamental not only for coronavirus prevention but also for avoiding pollution caused by wildfire smoke. In order to stay safe from both, health experts recommend buying the N95 mask.

N95 masks are known to provide the highest level of protection. In fact, they can keep ninety-five percent of the particles away, which is enough for both coronavirus infection and toxic smoke. However, since there is a shortage of N95 masks, experts suggest buying KN95 masks, which work just as better.

If a person is no able to obtain either, it is important to remember that any form of face covering is better than nothing.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, a fabric mask is effective in preventing the coronavirus but it may not be as helpful for pollution and smoke but it is still important to wear it.

In addition, other factors such as fitting of the mask are also important. If a covering does not fit properly or does not cover the nose and mouth, it will not provide the same level of protection. Overall, try to wear a mask for pollution and coronavirus outdoors as much as possible.

 

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