Topic: Here are the masks that will and won’t keep you safe in the smoke
As dozens of wildfires continue to burn across Oregon, cities and towns from Portland to Medford are inundated with smoke.
The air quality in Oregon cities west of the Cascades ranged from unhealthy to hazardous on Monday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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 a mask may help stop the spread of COVID-19, they don’t all protect you from wildfire smoke.
Cloth face coverings and surgical masks used to slow the spread of COVID-19 won’t filter out wildfire smoke particles, said Dr. Anh Nguyen, a senior medical director for the urgent care clinics at Providence.
The N95 respirator mask will filter out smoke and slow the spread of COVID but the masks are still in high demand and should be saved from doctors and nurses.
“To complicate the situation, anti-pollution masks commonly have valves to help let air out and make breathing easier,” according to Plume Labs scientist Dr. Boris Quennehen. “Unfortunately, valves render the mask virtually useless in preventing the transmission of viruses – because it is designed to let air out, along with whatever else might be in that air.”
Plume Labs recommends using an FFP2+ mask without valves in order to meet both needs.
Dr. Nguyen added that a good alternative to help alleviate both issues is to wear a cloth mask over the N95 mask with the valve.