Masks provide a ‘promising means’ to reduce particulate air pollution
Researchers say N95 respirators may provide stronger protection from wildfire smoke.
According to an August study in the AGU journal Geohealth, regulatory standard masks offer a “promising means” to reduce particulate air pollution and reduce the risk of negative health effects.
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Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health study authors noted that the public health benefits are “strongly dependent” on how often N95 respirators are used and how many people do.
team model Responsible for the different types of face coverings, how well they fit, characteristics of air pollution and the risk of respiratory disease due to air pollution, According to an accompanying release.
In addition, it looked at the percentage of people likely to wear masks and how consistently they would be worn.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers conducted laboratory experiments looking at the ability of various face masks and respirators to place particles found in smoke and air pollution over a pipe that “breathes” in the air and particles. . Inside a plastic box.
In a 2012 Washington state fire season case study, the group estimated that the use of N95 respirators could reduce respiratory hospitalizations due to wildfire smoke by 22% to 39%. N95s reduced a person’s risk by a factor of 16.
Alternatively, cloth masks only provided limited protection against air pollution and synthetic and cotton masks only reduced the risk by a factor of 2.2. and 1.4, respectively.
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While surgical masks filter out over 90% of particulates, previous research showed masks Allow about half the air to seep around the mask, making them just as effective as synthetic and cotton alternatives.
Surgical masks and synthetic masks would have reduced hospital visits from wildfire smoke by about 17% and 13%, respectively, and cotton masks were measured at only 6%.
According to the authors, N95s also worked best against large dust particles and urban air pollution.
The study noted the impact of climate change on the country’s wildfire season. Scientists say climate change will continue to make wildfires more frequent and intense.
In recent years, smoke from fires – also known as PM 2.5 – has filled the skies of the East Coast, worsening air quality and irritating the lungs, causing inflammation. There has been a change in immune function and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Smoking is linked to both long-term and short-term health problems, including a reduced risk of lung functionWeakened immune systems, high rates of flu, and even hospitalization and death.
According to the CDC, people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart diseasehandjob pregnant womenhandjob And children are especially at risk, as symptoms include trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, stinging eyes, sore throat, runny nose, sinus irritation, headache, fatigue, chest pain and heartburn. May include an increase in speed.
At-risk groups have been instructed to avoid outdoor activities, wear N95, keep doors and windows closed and run an air filter to clean the air inside.