Can the same mask used against COVID-19 keep me safe from wildfire? – Technology News, Firstpost

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As Dixie Fire rages in California, harmful fumes have moved air from Salt Lake City and Denver to the dirtiest in the world. Fires in western Canada and the northwest Pacific last month turned the sun red as far away as New York City.

Smoky turbidity includes several health threats from mild eye and throat irritation to severe cardiovascular and respiratory disease, which pose a particularly high risk when associated with similar COVID-19 symptoms. Studies published last week showed that the weakened immune response caused by last summer’s wildfires could be linked to thousands of additional infections and hundreds of COVID-19 deaths.

A helicopter with a water tank flies past a forest fire at Lytton Creek, which returns in the mountains near Lytton, British Columbia, on Sunday, August 15, 2021. (via Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press AP)

A helicopter with a water tank flies past a forest fire at Lytton Creek, which returns in the mountains near Lytton, British Columbia, on Sunday, August 15, 2021. (via Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press AP)

Although exposure to smoke and coronavirus pose similar risks, protection is required for each: Different fabric masks used to slow the spread of the virus provide little protection from small, harmful particles of forest smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hundreds of thousands of acres are burning in the west and the fire season is not over yet, here is a guide on how you can keep yourself safe.

What are the adverse effects of a forest fire?

Most of the forest fire covering the western country contains smoke and particles from burning trees and plants. The smallest of these particles – 2.5 micrometers and smaller, called PM 2.5 – can be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs and pose the greatest health risks.

When people are exposed to these fine particles repeatedly or for long periods of time, they may be at higher risk for health problems. As fires spark more often, last longer, and spread further, these risks increase.

“We are more exposed to wildfires than ever before,” said Mary Prunicki, an expert on the health effects of air pollution at Stanford University. “When a community is exposed to the risk of forest fires, respiratory problems increase in the emergency room and people are hospitalized for asthma and COPD. It exacerbates pneumonia and acute bronchitis. “

Forest fire exposure can also increase the risk of strokes and cause complications during pregnancy.

What is the best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of a forest fire?

Due to the small size of PM 2.5, most masks do not protect you much from toxins. According to the CDC, N95 and KN95 respirators can protect against both forest fire and coronavirus. But due to the limited availability of N95 respirators, the CDC does not recommend their use outside of healthcare.

The best protection against smoke is to limit exposure.

“Don’t care if you can smell it or not,” said Prunicki, who also advised limiting exercise outdoors. “Try not to do things that make you breathe deeply.”

To keep your home as protected from smoke as possible, keep the windows closed and use a portable air purifier. Create a “clean room” – your own room in your home where you can keep windows and doors closed, use fans, air conditioners, and portable air purifiers – and spend as much time there as possible.

How can I check the smoking conditions in my area?

Follow the AQI or air quality index to make sure air quality is in a healthy area before spending time outdoors.

The air quality index, determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, measures the density of five pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

The index is 0-500. If it shows a number below 100, air pollution is below the level known to cause adverse health effects. When the index registers more than 100, outdoor air remains safe for many, but some people, such as older adults, children, and heart and lung disease, are at higher risk. More than 200 figures are considered “very unhealthy”.

You can find your area on the AQI AirNow website, which is maintained by the EPA and also has separate fire and smoke maps.

Sophie Kasakove No. 2021 The New York Times Company

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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