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Best Face Mask For Bushfire Smoke - Smoke Protection Australia

Best Face Mask For Bushfire Smoke - Smoke Protection Australia

Australia has been hit with unprecedented and ferocious bushfires in the past few months. Australians have suffered greatly through this bushfire crisis, especially those living in NSW, Victoria and the ACT where the smoke has blanketed rural areas, towns and the density of the smoke has been affecting the air quality for millions of people living in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. As of recent, Canberra's air quality reached 22 times the "hazardous" levels, making it the most polluted city in the world.

Australian residents are very worried about the health impact of bushfire smoke. People are taking action to protect their health and wearing facemasks to prevent harmful smoke particles from entering their body.

But the question is... Are you wearing the right face mask?

Let's answer a few common queries:


Can facemasks protect from bushfire smoke?

The answer is: not all of them.

A standard ‘cloth mask’ (or type P1 masks) is ineffective and practically useless as they don't filter the dangerous PM 2.5 smoke particles in the air, neither do they provide airtight protection. These masks include disposable surgeon masks that are commonly purchased at chemists. 

Do not bother buying cloth masks


What is the best face mask for the bushfire smoke?

P2 Facemasks or N95 Safety Mask

When securely fitted and airtight, a P2 mask, which is the same as the N95 mask or PR Respirator is the only mask that will actually prevent smoke inhalation. The P2 mask will sufficiently protect you from the harmful PM2.5 particles roaming around in the air from bushfire smoke. These masks are designed to be comfortable and to fit the face snuggly, preventing contaminated air from leaking through. There are a variety of shapes and sizes available. The P2 masks are the minimum requirement to effectively filter out harmful smoke particles and are recommended by healthcare professionals in Australia. 

What is PM?

PM stands for ‘particulate matter’ and refers to the invisible particles in the air. Bushfire smoke creates very fine particulate matter that you can't see. Particles with a diameter of 10µm (micrometres) or less (PM10) can penetrate inside the lungs, whereas fine particles with a diameter of 2.5µm or less (PM2.5) can go even further into the bloodstream. Long-term exposure to PM can result in significant damage to your health. Both type of particulate matter can cause adverse health effects; long-term exposure to the toxic particles can reduce lung function and lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Two things to remember when buying the RIGHT facemask:

1. P2 (or N95 / PR Respirator) masks only! Any other masks which do not have a minimum PM2.5 protection level, will not be effective to protect your lungs.

2. Airtight protection – ensure it sufficiently sealed over the bridge of your nose and mouth. Make sure there are no gaps in the seal between your face and the mask to prevent leakage and smoke particles from entering your lungs. 

 


Where can I buy the right face masks for bushfire smoke?

Most hardware stores sell these specialised P2 or N95 (also known as a PR Respirator) safety masks. However many are running low on stock, due to high demand. Online stores and websites are a great option if you don’t mind waiting for delivery. Get prepared and secure your health for the hot summer ahead, the bushfires don't seem to be stopping any time soon. 

Dr Hoffmann face mask

Bacteria & Asthma Protective Face Mask by Dr Hoffman


This Protective Face Mask is a N95 mask, especially good for those suffering from asthma or allergies. The copper filter kills harmful bacteria and blocks the PM2.5 harmful particles. The reusable face mask incorporates a Ding-Filter - a patented copper filter -  that is particularly beneficial for asthma patients and allergy sufferers. The Ding Filter is designed and manufactured in Germany to extremely high standards.  It provides protection from smoke, smog, pollution, pathogens (virus and bacteria) and dust. If you are spending a lot of time outside and are expecting to be wearing a face mask for an extended period of time, this is a great option that is both affordable, comfortable and breathable. 


How to put on a P2/N95 face mask? 

> Remove your glasses and take off your hat. Tie back your hair to avoid it gets tangled in the straps of the mask. Men with beards should shave before using a P2 mask as facial hair between the mask and the user’s face will not guarantee a perfect seal.

> Now wash your hands.

> Place the mask on your face, with the nose piece at the top of the mask

> Place the ties over your head or attach the ear loops around your ears

> Push the mask against your face to ensure a correct seal across the bridge of the nose

> Push the mask with your hand onto the face to make sure cheeks and face are properly sealed

> Check the mask fits: gently inhale. If the mask is not drawn in towards your face or if air leaks around the seal of the mask seal, readjust the mask and repeat process. If the mask still 'leaks',  try a different size or style of mask.


What can you do when the air quality index is fair? poor? very poor? hazardous?

The NSW Ministry of Health has issued an Air Quality Index or AQI. This is a report on the air quality in your region. It indicates how clean or polluted the air is in areas across NSW. For your information, the air quality index in Canberra was recently 22 times the 'hazardous' levels, making the capital the most polluted city in the world. Find out what the AQI means and what activities you can do.

For healthy adults 18+

Air Quality Index

Call to action/message

Fair

Enjoy activities

Poor

Enjoy activities

Very poor

Cut back or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities

Hazardous

Significantly cut back on outdoor physical activities

For most people, the symptoms associated with bushfire smoke exposure are mild and will cease soon after the exposure has ended.

For higher-risk population such as pregnant women, seniors, those with lung or heart diseases and children

Air Quality Index

Call to action/message

Fair

Plan strenuous outdoor activities when air quality is better

Poor

Cut back or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities

Very poor

Avoid strenuous outdoor activities

Hazardous

Avoid all outdoor physical activities

People with asthma, lung diseases (like COPD), cardiovascular diseases, seniors, children, and pregnant women are more affected by air pollution.

Smoke exposure for this sensitive group can lead to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, even days after smoke is inhaled. NSW Ministry of Health recommends to closely monitor the symptoms. For asthma or COPD patients: follow your action plan. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. 

For more information on Air quality and the effects of bushfire smoke on your health, go to the NSW Ministry of Health website. 



Do air purifiers help in keeping the bushfire smoke out?

Vaporiser

Air purifiers connect to your plug socket and filter the impurities out of the air. This differs from humidifiers and coolers.

When purchasing an air purifier, look for one that contains a ‘Hepa filter’. A Hepa filter stands for ‘high-efficiency particulate air’ and is something which is extremely important to trap fine particles. Bushfire smoke does tend to be fine particles so you need a really, really good filter” says Chris Barnes, a household product expert. A good quality air filter will also emit fresh air, giving you airflow while it cleanses.

 


Conclusion

If you want to protect yourself from the impact of bushfire smoke, we recommend you buy a P2 mask. There are several models available: from disposable ones that you can buy in a 10 pack to the more specialised mask like the bacteria & asthma protective face mask by Dr Hoffman, for asthma sufferers. We recommend that people with lung or chronic heart conditions should seek advice from their medical practitioner before using these masks. 

Take extra measures to protect yourself if you suffer from asthma, COPD or lung diseases or heart conditions . Keep a good supply of medication - like pumps and bronchial dilators - at home. Bettercaremarket provides a range of respiratory devices like monitors, nebulisers and various accessories that can help you during this bushfire season.

Stay safe out there!

 

Disclaimer
The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Bettercaremarket uses reasonable endeavours to check the accuracy of the information provided however no we can not guarantee it is without error.