Do anti-Covid masks protect against toxic fumes from fires?

Studies establish a link between serious forms of Covid-19 and forest fires, American experts warn: simple fabric masks are not enough to protect against toxic fumes. What masks to use? We take stock.

From mild throat irritation to serious respiratory or heart problems. It may well look like the description of the covid-19 symptoms. But it also resembles that of the possible consequences of exposure to smoke from wildfires. But beware, if the symptoms are similar, the means to protect yourself may differ. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Americans, for example – currently still largely concerned by the problem of forest fires -, warn: the cloth face masks intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus provide little protection against smoke particles.

This is because the smoke particles are extremely fine. Scientists talk about PM2.5. This means that their diameter is less than 2.5 micrometers. Only so-called FFP2 masks and their very fine mesh offer adequate protection. Both against forest fires and against the coronavirus.

One health problem can hide another

Experts point out, however, that the best protection – again, against smoke from Forest fires just like against the coronavirus – is to avoid exposure. In the event of a relatively close fire, it is therefore advisable not to wait to smell the smoke to limit its activity. physical outdoors. In the event of a quality alertair, it is better to avoid anything that will require deep breathing. At home, doors and Windows should remain closed as much as possible.

And all the more so as a recent study shows that thousands of serious cases and deaths of Covid-19 in California, Oregon and Washington, between March and December 2020, could be attributed to increased air pollution from fine particles from smoke from forest fires. “This study provides policymakers with key insights into how a global crisis – the climate change which increases the frequency and violence of wildfires – can have cascading effects on simultaneous global crises – in this case, the Covid-19 pandemic”concludes Francesca Dominici, a researcher at Harvard University, in a communicated.

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