Australian Bushfire: What Mask Do I Need?


Australian Bushfire is happening and what do I need now to survive the smoke?
Australian Bushfire season has shocked everyone with its early arrival. Although, bushfires are historically required. It is a basic part of fertilisation for vegetation in Australia with its geographically dense landscape in a flat topography.

However, Australian bushfire surprised the Australian public with its unusual early wave. Consequently, leaving many lacking in preparation when it happens. The public are angry, some have blamed the government for fire control budget cuts last year. Meanwhile, others blame climate change; protesting on the street of Sydney. At the same time, koala populations are being threatened, and the current state of NSW air quality poses a threat to everyone. While these issues remain largely out of the Australian civilians control, taking care of their respiratory health is possible.

Fires burning across NSW and sending out smoke to Sydney reported by

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Sydney’s skies blanketed in smoke and the Air Quality Index (AQI) is off the chart. It shows ‘hazardous’ levels due to New South Wales bushfires. Due to most population are likely to be affected, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assigned it as health warnings of emergency conditions.

According to data from the NSW Department of Environment, Sydney is experiencing much higher rates of PM2.5 than normal as a result of bushfire smoke.

Sydney Air Quality December 10th 2019 taken from Berkeley Earth

Furthermore, Dr. Richard Broome from NSW Health commented Australian bushfire on his interview for ABC News “The longer this condition going on for, the more risk there is particularly for people who has existing heart & lung condition. So, it becomes increasingly important to avoid adult physical activity when it’s smoky. Follow your asthma management plan or your disease management plan if you have chronic conditions”.

Bushfire smoke contains damaging particles, like PM2.5, and likelihood is, you ought to have a mask. We’ll explain why.

What exactly is in bushfire smoke?

Specifically, smoke from bushfires is made up of small particles, gases and water vapour. In fact, the particles are very small – up to 1/30th the diameter of an average human hair – and are not visible to the human eye.

Beside that, the gases in bushfire smoke include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.

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Wildfire smoke can transport ash, dust and pollution over hundreds of miles. Fire scientists are finding it can also transport living things. – Danielle Venton, KQED Science

What is PM 2.5 and why is it dangerous?

PM2.5 Diagram from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Bushfire smoke carries 2.5 particulate matter —2.5 the size of the pollutant — crazy right? Please bear our stubbornness to remind you that PM2.5 are extremely small particles. Not only they can penetrate deep into the lungs, pass into the blood stream and impair the lung function. READ HERE for 6 things you need to know about PM2.5

If you continuously breathing in PM 2.5 without any filtration, it might have a long or short term negative effects. Those effects likely are:

  • First, shortness or breath
  • Second, nose and throat irritation
  • Third, excessive coughing and wheezing
  • Fourth, diminished lung and heart function
  • Fifth, asthma attacks

What mask can I wear to protect myself from PM 2.5 and poor AQI?

One of the most effective way to protect yourself from poor air quality exposure is to spend more time inside. Although we understand that it most likely impossible because you have to commute to work or school. Another option is to wear a respirator that fits tightly to your face, filter out those tiny particulate matters before you breathe them in.

Thick smoke comparison of Sydney versus normal day taken on December 5th 2019 by @melisahenderson
For this purpose, Cambridge Mask company provides two different types of mask which are BASIC Mask and PRO Mask. They are available in 5 sizes to fit children and adults to company you on day-to-day basis in spending outdoor activity.

—We will walk you though these two— Cambridge Mask PRO made by combining 3 unique layers.

  • The Primary Filter Layer – particles such as dust and PM 10 is filter through the first layer.
  • The Three-Ply Micro Particulate Layer – this is the second layer of the N99 PRO mask to block particulate pollution such as PM2.5 and had been tested to filter articles as small as PM0.3
  • Our Inner filter is made from a 100% pure activated carbon cloth, which was originally invented by the UK Ministry of Defense.
  • The PRO Mask is Unique Lab tested British Military Filtration Technology filters almost 100% of pollution, gases, and 99.6% of viruses and 99.7% of bacteria.
  • Therefore, not only you will protect yourself from harmful gases but also be stylist as PRO Ranges come with different unique patterns.

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Meanwhile, the BASIC features New Lab tested filtration technology filters over 95% of pollution, gases, and bacteria. Our N95 mask has met the standard of American National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health (NIOSH) N95 filter requirements under 42 CFR Part 48. The test is for sodium chloride (salt) penetration at particle size 0.3 microns and above.

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Wearing a respirator will help you get through the day and breathe better air. Likewise —better to be safe than sorry–

Don’t even think about wearing cloth or paper masks – just don’t

Cloth or paper masks are fairly loosely fitting and without a proper seal any mask won’t work. Medical masks have been designed to prevent bacteria and viruses from coming into contact with the respiratory area (nose and mouth).

Unfortunately, inhalation through medical masks won’t prevent pollution or small particles. These masks are not designed for the inhalation of small, airborne contaminants that are dangerous. This is why they are suitable in a medical setting, but not for outside use when combating the harmful effects of bushfire particles.

Will an air purifier help?

Meanwhile the air quality is poor, spending time inside is preferable. Dr. Richard Broome shared his thought on air purifiers saying that it would be effective if it has HEPA filters. It has the right size of the room situated in. The most important thing to remember when relying on indoor air purifiers is to ensure the room is sealed. Unfortunately, without the proper seal they will not work.

Stay Alert and Updated!

Australian Bush Fire Fact – Fire danger. Know the signs

If you have keep an eye on NSWRFS, you must have been familiar with the signs that they published frequently of the bushfires progress. The Forest Fire Danger Index is based on these forecast conditions namely temperature, humidity, wind speed and dryness of the landscape. But, what does it mean?

  • Severe – only risk staying if a homeowner is well prepared and they have the capability to defend the house.
  • Extreme – only risk staying if a home is prepared to the very highest level and is specially built to survive a bush fire
  • Catastrophic – is the highest alert sign which means no homes are able to withstand fires in these conditions. The safest option is for people to leave before any fire has started or affecting.

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Please click here for Fire Ready Kit ‘Your Guide to Survival’

Fire Ready Kit for survival plan and basic preparation for Australian bushfire season published by Country Fire Authority (CFA)

Important Links & Groups for Australian Bush Fires:

Finally, it is very important to stay updated and alert with the bush fires latest conditions. These sites that you should start to follow and keep up with are:

New South Wales:


Instagram: @nswrfs

Facebook Page : @nswrfs

Twitter: @NSWRFS

Youtube: NSWRFS

Apps: Fires Near Me NSW

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