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Smokey bushfire season

Stay Safe during Bushfires: The Importance of Upgrading Your Face Mask

, by Aussie Pharma Direct, 7 min reading time

One of the most pressing issues of our time is the rising threat of bushfires, which not only devastate landscapes but also pose a significant health risk to those exposed to them. The peril lies not only in the roaring flames but in something less visible yet equally menacing: the inhalation of fine particulate matter and harmful gases produced by wildfires.

In our quest to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the detrimental effects of bushfire smoke, many of us have turned to various face masks as a first line of defence. But how do we know if they are actually effective in protecting us from the health risks associated with exposure to the fine particulate matter?

Different types of masks commonly used

Let's take a moment to understand the various types of respirators that are commonly used to protect against respiratory threats. They are:

  • Cloth masks
  • Surgical masks
  • KN95/N95 respirators
  • P2 respirators

While cloth masks have been a familiar sight in our lives, they may not be the best choice when it comes to protecting yourself in smoke-prone areas. In a research done, it was revealed that cloth masks, while serving as a barrier against larger respiratory droplets, allow more than 90% of microscopic particles to pass through.

Surgical masks, on the other hand, typically have a filtration efficiency that can vary but generally falls within the range of 60% to 85%. This means that surgical masks are designed to filter out a significant portion of larger respiratory droplets and particles, which are typically larger than 0.3 microns in size.

When it comes to facing environmental challenges like bushfires or protecting yourself from airborne particles and pollutants, not all masks are created equal. While cloth and surgical masks have their place in specific situations, they may not provide the level of protection needed in scenarios involving microscopic particles like those found in wildfire smoke or certain infectious agents. In such cases, KN95, N95 and P2 respirators are the most recommended choice for ultimate protection.

An overview of the KN95, N95, and P2 respirators

Both KN95 and N95 respirators, including P2 masks each have their own differences but offer a high level of protection against airborne particles, making them suitable for healthcare workers, first responders, and individuals in environments where respiratory protection is necessary. 

N95 respirators are widely used in the United States and other parts of the world, and they must meet stringent filtration standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They are required to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including those as small as 0.3 microns.

KN95 respirators are commonly used in many countries, including China, and have been accepted in various parts of the world. KN95 respirators are certified to the Chinese GB2626-2006 standard, which requires them to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including those as small as 0.3 microns.

P2 respirators, however, are widely used in Australia and New Zealand and are the equivalent of N95 respirators in these regions. They adhere to the AS/NZS 1716:2012 standard and must filter out at least 94% of airborne particles, including those as small as 0.3 microns.

For the purpose of this blog, we are going to put the spotlight on P2 respirators as they are more common in Australia and New Zealand.

Is there a difference between dust masks and respirators?

You may encounter two main options: dust masks and respirators. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are crucial differences that can significantly impact their effectiveness in smoke protection. 

Dust masks, also known as particulate masks or face masks, are primarily designed to provide basic protection against larger airborne particles, like dust, pollen, and some larger droplets. They are not intended for protection against fine particulate matter or harmful gases found in smoke.

Why you should go for the P2 respirators for use in the bushfire season?

  1. High filtration efficiency

P2 respirators are designed to provide a high level of filtration efficiency, typically at least 94% for particles as small as 0.3 microns. This means they excel at trapping even the tiniest airborne particles that pose a serious health risk, such as those found in bushfire smoke. When you wear a properly fitted P2 respirator, you can breathe easier knowing that the majority of harmful particles are being filtered out, greatly reducing your risk of inhalation-related health issues.

  1. Secure fit and seal

One of the key advantages of P2 respirators is their ability to create a secure fit and seal around your nose and mouth. This snug fit ensures that the air you breathe passes through the high-efficiency filter and not through gaps around the mask's edges. This feature is crucial in environments where every particle counts, such as during a bushfire. A secure fit minimises the chances of harmful substances bypassing the mask, offering you the utmost protection.

  1. Versatile and widely available

P2 respirators are widely recognised and used in Australia and New Zealand. This recognition means that these respirators are readily available in these regions, making them a practical choice for those seeking reliable protection. With various options and styles to choose from, you can find a P2 respirator that suits your needs and preferences. You can start by measuring your face for the face mask or you can do a respiratory fit test to find the one that is perfect for you.

Where to buy P2 masks?

Now that we've discussed the importance of P2 respirators in safeguarding your health, you might be wondering where to obtain these masks. Fortunately, there are several dependable sources for purchasing P2 respirators to ensure you have the protection you need when it matters most, such as:

  • Medical supply stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Online retailers specialising in safety equipment

Consider supporting Australian-made products

When it comes to buying P2 masks, why not consider supporting Australian-made products? Australian-made face masks are considered one of the best, and supporting local manufacturing not only contributes to the country's economy but also ensures that you're getting a high-quality product designed to meet local standards and conditions.

One of the most reliable brands that manufacture respirators in Australia is AMD. AMD is known for producing top-notch respiratory protection equipment like their P2 respirators. If you're looking for a hassle-free way to purchase AMD P2 respirators, consider checking them out at Aussie Pharma Direct.

Choosing the right mask for the bushfire season

Selecting the right mask is a crucial decision, especially when facing environmental challenges like bushfires or even when dealing with airborne pollutants.

When choosing a mask for protection against smoke and airborne pollutants, prioritise masks with N95 or P2 ratings. These ratings indicate a high level of filtration efficiency and are your best bet for optimal protection. Regardless of the mask type, it's crucial to ensure a proper fit, including wearing it the right way, for that proper protection from smoke. When it comes to respiratory protection, the reliability and quality of the product matter. By choosing P2 respirators from trusted brands, you're making a responsible and informed choice to prioritise your health and well-being.


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