New South Wales is currently suffering through a severe smoke haze, as strong winds spread bushfire smoke across the state. While many have turned to filtered masks for protection against the pollution, not all masks are effective in protecting against smoke inhalation. For the best protection, you’ll need a P2 mask — the kind usually worn by builders.
How Sydney’s Smoke Pollution Is Affecting Your Lungs
After stepping out in Sydney on Tuesday, it will feel like you have smoked three packets of cigarettes – at once.
What is a P2 mask?
A P2 mask, otherwise known as a PR respirator, is a mask designed to filter fine particles from the air, and is mostly used to reduce the transmission of airborne diseases, and on building sites to protect against harmful chemicals.
Bushfire smoke carries PM2.5 particles, which are harmful particles made up of components that can include nitrates, sulphates, organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, according to the NSW Health department.
P2 masks are the only masks that come highly recommended by health professionals, although you’ll need to know how to fit it right for the best protection. When fitting a P2 masks, it’s important to ensure that the fit is secure, as this will help to reduce the inhalation of particulate matter.
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In a statement provided to Lifehacker Australia, NSW Health Director of Environmental Health, Dr Richard Broome stated, “A P2 mask does filter out these particles, but is only effective if there is a good fit and an air-tight seal around the mouth and nose.”
How To Help Australian Bushfire Victims
As of Monday morning, ongoing bushfires have continued to devastate Australia. At least 24 people have died, many are missing, and roughly 4.9 million hectares and one thousand homes have been destroyed in New South Wales, one of the hardest-hit states. The fires have also ravaged the lands of national parks and impacted the air quality of major cities like Sydney.
Where can I buy a P2 mask?
A P2 mask can be bought from any major hardware store, including Bunnings, Officeworks and Blackwoods. Stores like Mitre 10 may also stock P2 masks in store, but their website is currently sold out due to high demand.
For those wishing for a more stylish option, there are P2 masks available from Amazon, but keep in mind that you’ll have to wait longer for delivery if you’d like one.
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As we prepare for one of Australia’s most severe pollution and bushfire seasons, it’s important to keep yourself safe with the right equipment. Before heading out to purchase a mask, make sure you’re buying the right one.
3M Consumer has a handy safety infographic about P2 masks below:
Content retrieved from: https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/12/masks-smoke-bushfires-nsw-where-to-buy/.