CDC says cloth masks give ‘no protection’ against wildfire smoke

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Wildfire smoke settles over downtown Denver on July 13, 2021. (KDVR)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – This week is bringing in another round of smoky skies as Colorado continues to see wildfire smoke from the west coast causing air quality to decline.

As some people mask up to protect themselves from the haze, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising cloth masks offer no protection from the smoke.

Cloth masks have been and continue to be worn to protect people from COVID-19, and can limit the spread of the virus, according to the CDC. But, the masks offer little to no protection against wildfire smoke because of the size of particles in it.

Experts say if you do mask up against the smoke you’ll need to upgrade your mask to protect yourself. N95 and KN95 respirators can provide protection from wildfire smoke and can filter out 95% of smoke particles that may be harmful if inhaled.

Wildfire smoke contains a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. Experts say the microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. If inhaled, the particles can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases.

The CDC said the best way to protect yourself is to limit your time outdoors and to create “clean” spaces in your home.

If you do need to exercise outdoors, experts recommend lower-intensity activities to reduce your smoke exposure.

They say the best idea is to check the AQI or Air Quality Index in the area before you go outside to make sure it is in the “healthy” range.

For more information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke, click here.

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