Use of N95 Face Masks when the Air Quality is Poor

8/20/2018 – The air quality for Spokane County is currently in the “hazardous” category, which means that the entire population could be affected with respiratory problems when outside. People are advised to remain inside.

If you must go outside, an N95 face mask (sometimes called a dust mask) can be used to help filter some of the particles so they don’t reach your lungs. If you are using an N95 mask, it is very important to make sure it fits your face and is put on properly. If it doesn’t fit or isn’t put on properly, it will allow unfiltered air in and won’t protect you.

Always make sure the mask you select is a NIOSH approved N95. These are the only masks that have been tested and shown to filter out 95% of particulate matter. Either the mask or the box must have the phrase “NIOSH Approved”.

The Personal Protective Equipment page has some information on respirators and how to check them. The Ministry of Health in Singapore has produced a helpful video and the flier below for making sure your N95 is fit properly.

If there is air leaking around your mask, take it off and try to put it on again. If air still leaks the second time you put the mask on, you will want to try a different mask. There are many different N95 masks, they have different shapes to fit a variety of face shapes.