Ablaze in the North

“Wine country.” That’s what they’re calling it. Wildfires are ripping through Northern California’s “wine country,” as if the burden of suffering will primarily be borne by grapes and vines. Once again, the media tips its hand and shows that the human cost of the 2017 disaster season is only a statistic to adjust, rather than an actual flesh-and-blood tragedy. I don’t expect this trend to improve as this year winds down and more catastrophes occur (which they will), but the best we can do is our best to aid those in need with the resources at our disposal. At Enviro, that’s our extensive inventory of high-quality safety equipment, including respiratory protection that is absolutely essential in these conditions.

Smoke inhalation is dangerous under any circumstances; the only thing that should be entering your lungs is air, period. But the danger is heightened during fire scenarios, when the air is full of not just smoke, but of burnt material and ash carried by the wind. The smoke is heavy with carbon monoxide, which will inhibit your breathing, and microscopic particles will irritate the lungs.

There are four 3M masks in particular that we’re highlighting for use in fire response applications.

3M’s 1860 N95 disposable medical respirator is precision-engineered to block out airborne particulate as small as 0.1 microns. It meets the CDC guidelines for tuberculosis exposure control set by NIOSH, and the FDA has approved it for general-purpose surgical use. It’s normally used for medical procedures such as electrocautery and laser surgery, which involve powered instruments that can kick organic particles into the air. The cup shape resists collapsing towards the face, and the >99% bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) rating ensures it will protect from bacteria and bodily fluid alike. First aid responders and other medics will find this mask most useful.

The 8210 is a general-purpose N95 disposable particulate respirator, known worldwide as one of the most reliable available. NIOSH approves it for 95% filtration efficiency against non-oil-based particulate. The lightweight design sits comfortably over the user’s face, which works with the advanced electrostatic microfiber filter to allow it to be worn for long periods without discomfort. The adjustable nose clip and welded headband create a secure seal around the entire mouth.

The 8271 P95 disposable particulate respirator is ideal for hot and humid industrial environments. NIOSH approvies it for 95% filtration efficiency against both oil-based and non-oil-based particulate, making it more versatile than the average mask. The built-in Cool Flow technology allows hot air to leave the mask without letting harmful substances back in, creating a system of comfort and efficiency. It also provides protection from nuisance levels of acid gas. The adjustable nose clip and braided headband create a secure seal around the entire mouth.

3M’s general-purpose hot weather 8511 particulate respirator is perfect for hot and/or dusty work environments. NIOSH approves it for 95% filtration efficiency against non-oil-based particulate. The Cool Flow exhalation valve is engineered to release exhaled breath quickly to prevent heat buildup inside the mask, and the advanced electrostatic microfiber filter allows it to be worn for long periods without discomfort. The adjustable nose clip and braided headband provide a secure seal.

These four respirators should serve well in the coming weeks as we work to repair our state and rebuild our communities. As long as smoke is in the air, masks should be on as many people as possible. There will probably be more to come about the fires in this space, so stay tuned and stay safe.

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