Do masks protect against dust and smog?
If wildfire smoke and haze reach your area, no matter what area you’re in, you might want to know what your options are for protecting yourself. And what else you can do to protect yourself if you need to be exposed to smoke and fumes.
What is wildfire smoke and fumes? According to the EPA, wildfire smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles that contain several toxic air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde, that are released when wood and other organic materials are burned.
Invisible particulate matter is the “most dangerous” component of smog. “When you see a lot of air quality warnings, a lot of them are based on how much particulate matter is in the air.” These particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, which can cause irritation like burning eyes and diseases like bronchitis. The particles can be especially influence people those who have asthma or heart disease.
Do disposable or cloth masks provide protection?
A cloth or disposable mask you already own may help block some particles, but it cannot protect your lungs in dusty and smoky area.
When it comes to wildfire smoke protection, expert Presto said, you can think of masks as a “pecking order,” similar to how we think of masks when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Some masks are more effective than others, which may be comparable in fighting particulate matter. The following mask class rankings are for reference is: N95 is superior to disposable surgical masks, disposable surgical masks are superior to ordinary cloth masks.