Most Masks Are Useless Against Wildfire Smoke, CDC Warns

Matthew Nielsen Contributor
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Many Americans are choosing to don their old COVID-19 masks in response to the hazardous smoke pollution currently affecting most of the Northeast.

However, governmental agencies warn that most of these masks do not filter out “wildfire smoke,” stating that only N95 masks and other respirators can protect against the smoke.

The CDC’s guidelines state that most of these masks, including “dust masks” and “surgical masks,” are not enough to protect children against smoke, while an EPA release explicitly advises that “Cloth (wet or dry), paper masks, and tissues will NOT filter out wildfire smoke.” N95 masks are suitable to protect adults against the smoke, but the CDC notes that “N95 respirator masks are not made to fit children and may not protect them.” Individuals potentially at risk include “Children less than 18 years old,” “Adults aged 65 years or older,” “Pregnant women,” and “People with chronic health conditions,” per the CDC. (RELATED: Air Quality Alerts Issued As Canadian Wildfire Smoke Blankets Eastern Seaboard)

Bloomberg reported Thursday that, according to health experts, wildfire smoke exposure could also increase the chances of catching COVID.

Most people have nothing to fear from the smoke pollution, but at-risk individuals should still consider the use of an N95 mask, Time reported.