Those individual mask respirators are becoming increasingly scarce in the Bay Area. I am concerned to see individuals with no respiratory protection at all working outside this afternoon. This makes me wonder why we haven't heard much about public health distribution of these items to those unable to afford them at their local hardware store or simply unable to locate any for sale. Why is unhealthy air quality not a public health concern?
Then comes the assertion that such distributions, to the extent they have been undertaken at local fire barns (I'm looking at you Sacramento and Daly City), should be halted. The chief rationale for this is that individuals use the respirators incorrectly. I have to wonder if this isn't based on some post-Katrina research indicating that, without training, respirators are likely to be used incorrectly.
Of course, some people make the same argument about condoms.
I am hard pressed to understand, one week into smoke-ageddon in the Bay Area, public health authorities have not focused on distribution of and training/education on how to wear an appropriate mask/respirator. After all, if a significant percentage of incorrect use comes from wearing the mask upside down, couldn't a sticker be added to the bag containing the respirator indicating "this end up" or "this covers the bridge of your nose"? Heck, my Flonase applicator comes with a warning: "for nasal use only." Yes, some people will spray the Flonase some other ineffective place, but shouldn't we consider whether that extra warning will make the number of people spraying Flonase somewhere other than their nose lower?
People are motivated. Every time I venture out (infrequently), someone stops me and asks me where I got the mask/respirator I am wearing. I tell them mine are left over from the Tubbs Fire but some should be available at a local hardware store. I would rather tell them where the nearest fire barn distributing such mask/respirators along with instruction on how to wear them is.