The Distinction Between Dust Masks, N95s and Other Respirators

During instances of poor air quality, many individuals choose to cover their mouth and nose to protect themselves from breathing in wildfire smoke. Nonetheless, not all masks and facial coverings truly protect the lungs from the harmful respirable particles present in wildfire smoke. Here’s a breakdown of the intended use and stage of protection offered by every:

Paper dust masks: Also called surgical masks, these loose-fitting masks have only one strap and don’t kind a decent seal to the wearer’s face. They are designed to cease liquid droplets and aerosols popping out of the wearer’s mouth, not filter the air coming in. With no filter and no facial seal, they are not designed to forestall the inhalation of respirable particles found in smoke. Although they could look the same, dust masks aren’t respirators and shouldn’t be used for that purpose.
N95s and P100s: These respirators have units of straps and form a decent seal to the face. Your entire respirator is made of filtering material. N95s are the most typical, with P100s being more protective (similar to a HEPA filter). Both types can usually be found in hardware stores and other retail outlets. These respirators are licensed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), so search for “NIOSH” and the designation “N95” or “P100” on the respirator.
When worn correctly, these respirators are effective at filtering out the small respirable particles present in wildfire smoke. Nevertheless, they don’t filter out fumes and gases; for that, see the following type of respirator listed.

Half-face or full-face respirator: Unlike N95s and P100s, which are disposable, half-face and full-face respirators offer a tight-fitting, versatile facepiece with exchangeable filter cartridges. N95 particulate filters or purple (P100 or HEPA) filter cartridges will protect in opposition to particulates in wildfire smoke. When used with a combination filter that has an natural vapor cartridge, these respirators would additionally protect towards dangerous fumes and gases. Nevertheless, neither these respirators nor N95s provide oxygen.
Steps for Utilizing an N95 or P100 Respirator Appropriately

Place the respirator over your nose and under your chin, with one strap under the ears and one strap above. When you’re wearing a hat, place it over the straps.
Pinch the metal nostril clip tightly over the top of your nose.
Substitute the respirator when it turns into damaged, soiled or more difficult to breathe through. It might be obligatory to make use of a contemporary respirator daily.
For a respirator to provide protection, it must kind a good seal across the mouth and nose. Facial hair doesn’t allow a good fit, so wearers should be clean-shaven. Respirators can increase risk for different medical conditions because it’s more tough to breathe via them. In the event you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous, first tell somebody, then go to a less smoky area, remove your respirator and search medical attention.

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