Advice on the use of masks for those exposed to bushfire smoke

The Australian Government’s Acting Chief Medical Officer and State and Territory Chief Health Officers have released a statement containing advice on the use of masks for people exposed to bushfire smoke.

Read the full statement here.

The statement outlines who should wear them and why, the level of protection they offer, their benefits and problems, protective alternatives, plus where to buy them.

Excerpt from the statement:

P2 masks are not recommended for general community use. The use of P2 masks should be limited to:

  • vulnerable people including those with significant health issues;
  • people whose only option is to work outside; or
  • people returning to their properties in burned areas.

Those most at risk of significant health effects of smoke include:

  • people with existing heart or lung conditions, including angina, ischaemic heart disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (bronchitis and emphysema);
  • people over 65 years of age as they are more likely to have heart or lung disease;
  • children 14 years and younger;
  • pregnant women; and
  • people with diabetes.

P2 masks have limited utility for extended periods. Seek the advice of a medical practitioner before using a P2 mask if you have an existing heart or lung condition.

Wherever possible, people should avoid smoke by staying indoors with the windows and doors shut and avoiding vigorous exercise outdoors. P2 masks can help protect against smoke but will only do so if used properly. 

Read the full statement here.