Smoke Damage >> Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes

This section addresses the use of masks and respirators by the public and workers to reduce inhalation of wildfire smoke, specifically harmful particles. Use of the term "mask" in this context may cause confusion for both public health officials and the general public, as it can refer to one-strap paper masks and surgical masks, which provide little if any protection, as well as N95 (defined below) and other respirators, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes which can be beneficial. 

This discussion emphasizes appropriate usage of the term "respirator;" however, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes in Appendix B, which provides guidance in lay language to the public on respiratory protection, the term "mask" is used. In order for a respirator to provide protection, it must be able to filter very small particles and it must fit well, providing a tight seal around the wearer's mouth and nose. 

For example, adequate seals cannot be obtained for men with beards or for most children. Without having had a "fit test" while wearing a respirator, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes the individual user cannot be sure that it fits well enough to provide the expected protection. 

However, because disposable respirators (N95 or P100) are increasingly available in hardware and home repair stores and pharmacies, many people will purchase these devices and use them, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes either when going outdoors during smoke events or during fire ash cleanup. 

Therefore, health officials should consider providing guidance on the proper selection and use of respirators, which can provide some level of protection despite the lack of formal fit testing and training. Respirators should only be used after first implementing other, more effective methods of exposure reduction, including staying indoors, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes reducing activity, and using HEPA air cleaners to reduce overall smoke exposure. 

Another option that should be considered for sensitive individuals is temporary relocation out of the smoky area if possible. Filtering facepiece respirators are a type of respiratory protection in which the entire respirator is comprised of filter material. The most common types are called N95 (used in health care settings to protect against inhalation of infectious particles) and Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes P100 (used to protect against toxic dusts such as lead or asbestos). 

Filter material rated "95" will capture at least 95% of very small particles, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes while material rated "100" filters out at least 99.97%. These respirators must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with the words "NIOSH" and the designation "N95" or "P100" appearing on the filter material. P100 respirators are more expensive than N95 respirators and will have somewhat higher resistance to airflow. 

The cost difference may make people reluctant to change them out when necessary, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes so N95 respirators may be preferable in wildfire smoke situations. Leakage around the respirator will result in more particles inhaled by someone wearing a respirator than passage through the filter material. Therefore, in practice, particularly without formal fit testing, N95s and P100s will provide similar levels of protection against wildfire smoke. 

Other nondisposable NIOSH-certified respirators, such as those used by painters, may also be beneficial; they have a tight-fitting flexible facepiece and Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes replaceable filter cartridges. These would provide similar protection from particles if they are used with N95 particulate filters or purple (P100 or HEPA) filter cartridges. 

This type of respirator may also be purchased with a combination filter and organic vapor cartridge, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes which can reduce exposure to irritating gases in smoke, such as aldehydes. One drawback to the use of respirators by the public in an area affected by wildfire smoke is that people may not select or use them correctly and won't understand the importance of having a tight seal around the face. 

A one-page fact sheet, "Protect Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke," which is designed for the general public, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes appears at the end of this Guide as Appendix B. In lay terms (including using the term "mask" instead of "respirator"), it describes how to correctly choose and use a disposable N95 or P100 particulate respirator. 

Guidance to the public on using respirators should include the following points: How to Choose the Right Respirator: Disposable particulate respirators are sold at many hardware and Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes home repair stores and pharmacies. These respirators only filter out particles. They do not protect against gases or vapors, and do not provide oxygen.  

Select a NIOSH-certified N95 or P100 particulate respirator with two straps that go around your head. The words "NIOSH" and Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes either "N95" or "P100" will be printed on the filter material. Choose a size that will fit over your nose and under your chin. It should seal tightly to your face. If you cannot get a close face seal, try a different model or size. 

Fit testing is the best way to determine if the respirator fits you, but even without fit testing a respirator will provide some protection to most people. As of July 2008, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes respirators do not come in sizes that will fit young children. NIOSH does not certify any respirators for children. How to Use the Respirator:  

Place the respirator over your nose and under your chin, with one strap below the ears and one strap above (see photo above). If you're wearing a hat, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes it should go over the straps. Pinch the metal nose clip tightly over the top of your nose. Facial hair will cause the respirator to leak, so you should be clean-shaven.  

It takes more effort to breathe through a respirator. It can also increase the risk of heat stress. If you are working outside while wearing a respirator, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes take frequent breaks, especially if you are working in the heat or doing heavy work. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated, tell someone, go to a less smoky area, remove your respirator, and get medical attention.  

People with heart or lung disease should consult with their doctor before using a respirator. Discard the respirator when: (1) it becomes more difficult to breathe through it, Remove Fire & Smoke Smell From Clothes or (2) if the inside becomes dirty. If necessary, use a fresh respirator each day. Keep your respirator clean and dry. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's recommendations on use and storage.


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