Air and Water

What do I use if I have to do outdoor work when the air quality is poor?

I use a respirator mask labeled N95 or N100. This provides protection from fine and course particles, but does not filter hazardous gasses such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and acrolein. It is fairly comfortable and easily accessible and can work almost anywhere. The mask should have 2 straps that go around your head. A surgical mask or a one-strap paper mask is inadequate. The mask should seal tightly over your face. It should indent in with a very deep breath. These masks don’t seal well on children or people with beards. I almost always have a particulate mask hanging from the sun visor in my vehicles for unexpected smoke or dusty jobs.

Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke. Bandannas or towels (wet or dry) or tissues held over your mouth and nose are not adequate protection. These may relieve dryness but won’t protect your lungs from smoke particulates. http://www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/

For purchase:

Home Depot, Boise N 95 Respirator Masks @ $.5.00- and $21.00 for a 15 pack .

Amazon – sells N95 Respirator Masks at about $4.00 each and an N100 Disposable Particulate masks for $6.00 each.

Thriftway Home Centers, Boise – none

 

Credits to Ann Huycke and Jeanine Butler.

By |September 14th, 2016|Air and Water|

What should we do to protect ourselves from the smoke on a day to day basis?

My first (OK, maybe second or third) activity of the day is to check the air quality on airnow.com. If the air quality is above 50 or yellow alert, I don’t bike to work or exercise outside (I am very sensitive to smoke). I recommended the same for people with heart or lung diseases (asthma, angina, allergies, chronic sinusitis, etc), for older folks (if they are more predisposed to heart and lung disease) and children (who breathe more air per pound than adults). I don’t think anyone should exercise outside with air quality over 100 or orange alert. And if the air quality gets in the red zone, I suggest we all move to Hawaii.

You can improve indoor air quality by keeping the windows and doors closed. Run the air conditioner but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution, such as burning candles, fireplaces or gas stoves, vacuuming (darn!) and smoking.

 

Credits to Ann Huycke and Jeanine Butler.

By |September 14th, 2016|Air and Water|

What is the preferred mask for city firefighters?

This mask is heavy and cumbersome, vision may be limited, and it requires an oxygen tank. This equipment is necessary because of the toxic building materials that are burning. If you choose to wear this during fire season, tell me how it goes when you make a withdrawal at your bank.

 

 

 

Credits to Ann Huycke and Jeanine Butler.

By |September 14th, 2016|Air and Water|

What is the fire gear for the lungs most worn by the forest firefighters?

They wear no lung protection! There is minimal risk of short term smoke exposure causing lung cancer. There is however the possibility of allergies, bronchitis, cough, increased phlegm, fatigue, headaches, etc. https://www3.epa.gov/ttnamti1/files/ambient/smoke/wildgd.pdf

Why don’t they wear masks?

I spoke with a forest firefighter who told me that if they were given masks, they wouldn’t wear them. Their backpacks weigh 45 pounds in gear, food and water. A mask which is fully protective requires an oxygen tank, this respiratory protection adding 30 pounds of weight to their pack. Even lightweight N95 or N100 particle masks create work in sucking air through a filter, making hard physical labor much more arduous.

 

Credits to Ann Huycke and Jeanine Butler.

By |September 14th, 2016|Air and Water|
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