Masks don't really work

Surgical masks don't work on wood smoke.

That from Interior Health, in response to numerous inquiries on how to breathe easier during the smoky conditions caused by wildfires.

According to IH, paper dust masks found at retail stores do not provide protection from the particles found in smoke.

Specialized face masks known as certified N95 respirators can filter tiny particles out of inhaled air, but they are not recommended in most circumstances because they can make it harder to breathe while wearing and must be professionally fitted.

The best thing people can do is monitor air quality in their area, take steps to reduce smoke exposure, and monitor their symptoms.

Smoke can affect each person differently, based on health, age, and exposure. Smoke exposure is particularly a concern for those who have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, or diabetes. It is also a concern for pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly. 

When smoke levels become high, even healthy people can be affected and everyone should be monitoring their systems and taking appropriate action to protect their health.

Symptoms to monitor:

  • Difficulty breathing  
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Coughing
  • Irritated eyes, nose, and throat

Anyone experiencing such symptoms and who's concerned should contact a health care provider or walk- in clinic. If the symptoms are severe, seek emergency medical attention.

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