P100 / N100 Particulate Respirator Works for Smoke — Air Quality in the San Francisco Bay Area is the Worst I’ve Seen it in 35 Years — from the 'Camp Fire'
I wrote about the health hazards of some in P100 / N100 Particulate Respirator Works for Smoke back in July.
The past two day has shown the worst air quality I have ever seen, apparently as bad as in Beijing, due to the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California history. Speaking for myself, it’s the worst I have ever breathed in my entire life and that fire is hundreds of miles away.
I reiterate my warning about the health hazards of smoke, but this smoke is especially pernicious—even an N100 face mask which eliminates 99.75% of particulates down to 2.5 microns cannot take out an apparently nasty chemical content that irritates my nose and throat. For most people, a 3M particulate respirator N95 is better, more comfortable over time, though it is 10X less effective, it is a 20X improvement over no mask.
Dr. John Balmes, who studies air pollutants and their effects on respiratory health at UCSF, said the bad air puts everyone’s health at risk, but especially those with heart and lung diseases. Children also have increased risks because they breathe more rapidly than adults, leading to higher exposure to the polluted air, he said.
The tiny particles in wood smoke are what make it especially dangerous, Balmes said.
“Those fine particles can make it down into the deep lung and they can cause harm to people with pre-existing heart and lung disease, people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” he said. “Those conditions are exacerbated by air pollution like this.” Ace Hardware manager, Art Grassi, discusses respirator masks. Video: San Francisco Chronicle If going outside can’t be avoided, N95 respiratory masks offer some protection, Balmes said. The name comes from the fact that the masks can filter out 95 percent of the fine particles in wood smoke.
The air quality index, a number that measures air pollutants, hovered between 105 and 152 around the Bay Area on Friday. A healthy level is 50 or lower. By contrast, in Beijing, one of the world’s worst places for air pollution, the rating was 21 early Saturday.
I’ve done my 90-minute baseline ride for 4 days in a row now with an N100 and my lungs have not reacted at all in spite of high respiratory rate. My lungs are extremely sensitive to smoke. Athletes take in volumes of air 5X to 10X greater than when idle, yet public health officials don’t even mention that severe risk (see quote below)—what jackasses.
Proving that public health officials are a menace to public health, the understated idiocy of “considering” an N95 respirator makes it sound unimportant. An N95 respirator is way better than nothing, but 20X less effective than an N100 mask (99.75% down to 2.5 microns). An N95 mask is not adequate under current conditions. Fine particles can accumulate in the body to cause persistent coughing, difficulty breathing and reductions in lung function. I can attest that such impairment doesn’t go away quickly—I suffered for a month last summer after exposure I should have avoided.
People going outside should consider [diglloyd: WTF?] wearing N95 masks, which filter out 95 percent of the fine wood particles in the smoky air. The masks are available for purchase at any hardware store. Daly City and South San Francisco officials are handing out masks to residents at government buildings.
Update: the next day Nov 10 I did go for a ride using an N100 face mask as the air had improved to just plain bad. It was as effective as I had found it to be with pollen and smoke and dust in the past: not even a hint of bronchospasms or coughing or other issues.