Don’t put away those N-95 masks yet; face covering protects against smoke particulates as well as COVID

By Brian Bull (KLCC)
Sept. 26, 2022 11:27 p.m.

At the peak of the COVID pandemic, high-end face masks were recommended to help protect people against infection.

Now with continuing smoke and ash covering Oakridge into the southern Willamette Valley, officials say not to be too hasty packing away your N-95 masks.

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Inset: N-95 face mask; photo: Western edge of Cedar Creek Fire, taken Sept. 20, 2022

Inset: N-95 face mask; photo: Western edge of Cedar Creek Fire, taken Sept. 20, 2022

Courtesy of Inciweb

Travis Knudsen of the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency told KLCC that while cloth masks aren’t of great use, N-95s, especially those with respirators, can help safeguard wearers against the unhealthy air.

“Those masks are effective at filtering the particulate matter that’s in wood smoke,” said Knudsen. “You do need to assure that you’re wearing them correctly. Essentially means that they have a nice seal on your face, where no air is able to pass between your skin and the mask. So anybody who has facial hair for example is not going to be able to get a good enough seal.”

LRAPA has extended its air advisory for East Lane County indefinitely, as the Cedar Creek Fire continues to burn. Relief will come with more rain and containment of the fire.

©2022, KLCC.

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