N95 Masks

Study shows N95 respirators could offer robust protection from wildfire smoke

Researchers calculated that “protection factor”Each type of faceCoverage is determined by its ability to filter out particles, and the amount of air likely to leak around it. mask. Credit: Kodros et al./GeoHealth

N95 respirators provide the best protection against wildfire smoke, other types of pollution, and perform better than synthetic, surgical, and cotton. masks.

Researchers conducted lab experiments to test the effectiveness of different types of drugs. face masksThey used respirators to filter particles in a variety of sizes that can be found in smoke and other air pollution. They placed the different maskMaterials that are not compatible with a pipe “breathes”In air and particles in a plastic container.

In laboratory experiments, N95s proved so effective that researchers estimated their widespread use could reduce the number of hospitalizations due to wildfire smoke by 22%-39%. The findings of the study can be used to make evidence-based recommendations for people who want to protect themselves during wildfire season.

GeoHealth, AGU’s journal that studies the intersection of human health and planet health, published the new study.

Wildfires are becoming more common and intense due to climate change in the Western U.S. and this is causing serious health problems. Wildfire smoke contains tiny particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5)—about the size of a single bacterium—that enter the lungs and are linked to multiple health problems, including a higher risk of asthma, respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Face coverings became second nature for many people during the coronavirus epidemic. Some wonder if this is a sign of a new trend. masksRespirators can also protect against pollution and smoke. Respirators, by definition, are protective equipment that close around the nose or mouth to filter air entering and exiting the body. Surgical-style face masksThey are designed to capture any droplets or particles that are produced by the wearer in order to prevent the spread and spread of disease.

Study shows N95 respirators could offer robust protection from wildfire smoke

Researchers compared how much protection each type of protection provided maskTypes that are free from smoke and other aerosols. N95 masksThe best protection. Credit: AGU

“People were asking, should we keep them on in the summer when the fire season starts?”Jack Kodros, an atmospheric scientist from Colorado State University and the lead author of this new study, said: “There weren’t a lot of guidelines on what sort of masks would be helpful for wildfire smoke.”

Kodros’s team measured the performance of N95 respirators as well as synthetic, cotton, and surgical respirators. masksEach filter removes the size of particles that are found in air pollution. They then calculated how much each filter would remove. faceCovering would reduce the exposure to pollution. Consider their ability to filter particles and how much oxygen they can hold. masksLeakage is possible if they are attached to the body of a person. face.

They found that N95s provide the best protection against wildfires smoke. This reduces a person’s exposure by a factor 16 Synthetic and natural cotton masksFiltering out the particles in wildfire smoke is a difficult task. Exposure was only lowered by a factor of 2.2, 1.4. Surgical masksAlthough they filter more than 90% of particles, previous research has shown that about half of the air around them is not fully filtered. maskThey are only as effective as the synthetic and natural cotton options.

N95s also work well against larger dust particles as well as urban air pollution. This is made up of particles from car exhaust which are smaller than those from wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke: Reducing hospitalizations

The second part of their study was where the researchers estimated the benefits to maskWearing across an entire population. They devised a model that considered the probability of people wearing it. masksThey also wore them more often. To see if the model would work in the 2012 Washington state fire season, they applied it. maskThe number of hospitalizations resulting from respiratory problems would have been reduced if the wearer had been properly dressed.

The model suggested N95s would have prevented around 30% of the hospital visits due to wildfire smoke. Surgical masksSynthetic masksVisits would have been reduced by approximately 17% and 13% respectively, while cotton would have seen a decrease in visits. masksIt would have resulted only in a 6% drop.

Study shows N95 respirators could offer robust protection from wildfire smoke

This chamber is used by researchers at Colorado State University to test the effectiveness of their research. masksRespirators filter out particles in the air. Credit: Jack Kodros

Kodros stresses that these are important maskThese recommendations are only applicable to air pollution and do NOT apply to coronavirus. “For COVID-19, you’re wearing a mask to protect yourself and also to reduce your own emitted droplets,”He said. Fabric masksDuring the current crisis, they have been proven to be beneficial for public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that you use them. masksTwo or more layers of fabric that fits snugly over the nose, mouth, and cheeks.

Stephanie Holm, a pediatrician, environmental epidemiologist and co-director of the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at the University of California, San Francisco, says that currently there is a lot of interest—but also a lot of confusion—about how well different maskMaterials filter out particles. “I think this particular study fills a nice gap in terms of thinking about how we translate that kind of filtration data into real levels of protection, and real differences in health effects that we could see in a population,”She spoke.

Holm was not part of the study but she advises families about wildfire smoke prevention and is happy to include this information in her recommendations.

What to know about wildfire smoke & COVID-19

More information:
John K. Kodros and colleagues, Quantifying the Health Benefits Face Masks and Respirators for Mitigating Exposure to Severe Indoor Air Pollution, GeoHealth (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2021GH000482

Provided by
American Geophysical Union

Study shows that N95 respirators could provide strong protection against wildfire smoke (2021, September 27,)
Retrieved 11 Oct 2021
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