Do respiratory masks keep you safe from smoke?


SPOKANE, Wash. -Spokane continues to be smothered by dense smoke caused by wildfires burning in the Inland Northwest.

To help some people breathe easy, the City of Spokane has distributed 500 masks to at-risk citizens who are exposed to the poor air quality, particularly those who are homeless.

The masks were provided by the Spokane Regional Health District, but how well do they work?

"For people who have to be outside, respirator masks can provide some level of protection but there are caveats to their use,” the Health District told KHQ.

Those caveats include the following:

  • They can make it harder to breathe, so people with existing lung conditions should be aware.
  • Specific instructions must be followed to get them to seal correctly.
  • The masks won't seal correctly with facial hair.
  • You can't use them with small children.
  • They filter for particulates but not hazardous chemicals.

While the Health District does not guarantee the masks will keep you safe, they do say it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially for those who spend a lot of time outside.

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