If you’re spending any extended time outside on these smoky days—working, walking, or just waiting around—you should be wearing some type of protection for your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. But not just any mask will do the job. And wet towels or bandanas don’t work either.
Look for a face mask called a “particulate respirator” and choose one labeled N95 or N100 that has two straps that go around your head. Don’t choose a one-strap paper dust or surgical mask that hooks behind the ears. Choose a size that fits under your chin, over your nose, and tightly against your skin. Unfortunately, sizes that fit small children may be difficult to find.
For a good seal, put the upper strap above your ears, against that bump on the back of your head. The other strap goes below the ears to hold the mask firmly in place. (Beards don’t seal at all! A clean shave is best.)
You cannot clean and reuse these masks. If you’re working all day and wearing a mask, it’s best to replace it daily. Or if you perceive more difficulty breathing, simply toss the mask and replace it with a fresh one.
For more information, go to http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/334-353.pdf
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.