You might be wondering, as the smoke from the oak tree fire in Yosemite spreads throughout sections of California and Nevada, whether the COVID-19 masks that are everywhere around you can also protect you from the smoke from the fire.
What potentially hazardous implications can smoke from wildfires have?
It is possible for the natural defenses and elimination processes of the body to be compromised by the pollutants that are found in smoke from wildfires, particularly the smaller PM 2.5 particles that get deeper into the lungs. According to Dr. Richard Castriotta, a pulmonologist at the University of Southern California Keck Medical Center, people who have been exposed to smoke from wildfires may be more susceptible to infections after the exposure, and these infections may even become more severe after the initial infection has taken hold.
People who have asthma are at risk for experiencing worsening bronchial constriction and may require further treatment.
According to Ed Avor, a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, “Every wildfire is somewhat similar in terms of plant and tree burning and so on.” “It goes without saying that the things that are burned might have a significant impact on the characteristics of the fire. For instance, structures or certain items, such as automobiles, fuels, solvents, and other products that you would have in your garage, plastics, etc.”
Therefore, there are certain unique elements, but in general, it is believed that smoke from wildfires contains a great number of high concentrations, a variety of different sized particles, and a wide range of different types of gases, he added.
Avor has stated that “generally speaking, smoke inhalation is not healthy for any of us.” “However, there are vulnerable segments within our overall population that are at an especially high risk.”
Persons with pre-existing respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pulmonary fibrosis are included in this group. Also included are young children, pregnant women, people with heart illness, asthma, and people with asthma.
Is it possible for a COVID N95 mask to shield you from the smoke of a fire?
Castriotta noted that N95 masks are the best available, and that they actually protect against the pollutants that can be produced by wildfires.
Avol, a researcher who focuses on the progression of air pollution, respiratory health, and lung health, is of the same opinion.
According to Avol, “so-called N95 masks,” which are approved masks that have been measured, made, and tested in a reasonably rigorous manner — assuming that they fit your face — can do an excellent job of shielding you from airborne particulate matter if they are properly fitted.
He also mentioned that conventional cloth masks do not perform as well as surgical N95 masks, but this is dependent on the type of cloth used and the manufacturing process.
According to Avor, surgical masks, which are often the blue disposable ones that are loose around the face, “may play a part in protecting you from COVID, but it’s not a good defense against wildfire smoke.”
How can you protect yourself the best against the smoke caused by wildfires?
To protect yourself from the smoke caused by wildfires, it is advisable to limit your exposure to it as much as you can. This may involve remaining indoors with the doors and windows shut for as long as possible.
The following are some additional actions that must be taken:
Keep yourself cool by being indoors where there is air conditioning.
In order to maximize your protection, pair your air conditioner with an air purifier or HEPA filter.
If you want to stop air from getting in via the crack between the floor and the window, you can block it with a wet rag.
When going outside, you should protect yourself the best you can by using a N95 mask.
If you are traveling in a vehicle, make sure that the windows are rolled up and that the ventilation system is active and recirculating air.
You should reduce the amount of physical activity you do so as not to quicken your heart rate and take in more air.
“Exercise is good for you in general, but in this potentially smoking circumstance… We need to be more thoughtful about where, how, and when we exercise,” Avore said. “Exercise is good for you in general.”
Additionally, he mentioned that it is beneficial to check the air quality index before going out to work or for a workout. It could help make better informed judgments about whether to wear masks or adopt “some kind of wise avoidance method to take care of our health because we want to avoid short-term and long-term impacts.”
How can you tell the difference between being exposed to smoke and having signs of COVID-19?
According to Dr. Castriotta, the COVID-19 symptoms of being exposed to smoking include alterations in smell and taste in addition to fever.N95 Protect from smoke and dust
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