'Particulate respirator' masks may help with smoke's impacts

But get the right mask - and fit it properly

Authorities handing out masks to...

SISTERS, Ore. - Deschutes County Health Services, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, have distributed masks to help combat smoky conditions in Central Oregon.

The masks that are being given out are different then the typical dust or surgical mask.

These masks are called “particulate respirators” and filter out the air particles that come along with harmful smoke.

The masks can be found at many hardware stores and come with N95 or P100 printed on them.

Tim Craig, deputy chief at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, said Thursday that a mask could be a good option for people with health risks.

“Good candidates for an N95 mask would be people with respiratory problems, people who may have cardiac problems that could be aggravated by smoke or particulates in the air,” Craig said.

Officials say the other types of masks just don’t get the job done.

While a mask like this may be helpful, it is not a solution to the smoky conditions. 

According to Heather Kaisner, Deschutes County health information officer, they can be difficult to breathe in and uncomfortable to wear.

“They’re pretty uncomfortable, and they can be pretty hard to breathe in,” Kaisner said. “They are really only for short-term use, for able-bodied adults, so people who don’t have underlying  medical conditions.”

Also, if not fitted to your face properly, they are not as effective.

“You need to make sure that there is a good seal all the way around,” Craig said. “And then it provides good protection against particulates that are in the air.”

If you are forced to be outside for an extended period of time, they may be a good solution.

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