Exploring the use of masks for protection against the effects of wildfire smoke among people with preexisting respiratory conditions.

Publication date: Nov 24, 2023

The impact of wildfire smoke is a growing public health issue, especially for those living with preexisting respiratory conditions. Understanding perceptions and behaviors relevant to the use of individual protective strategies, and how these affect the adoption of these strategies, is critical for the development of future communication and support interventions. This study focused on the use of masks by people living in the Australian community with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Semi-structured phone interviews were undertaken with people living in the community aged 18 years and over. Participants lived in a bushfire-prone area and reported having been diagnosed with asthma or COPD. Twenty interviews were undertaken between July and September 2021. We found that, during wildfire episodes, there was an overwhelming reliance on closing windows and staying inside as a means of mitigating exposure to smoke. There was limited use of masks for this purpose. Even among those who had worn a mask, there was little consideration given to the type of mask or respirator used. Reliance on sensory experiences with smoke was a common prompt to adopting an avoidance behavior. Participants lacked confidence in the information available from air-quality apps and websites, however they were receptive to the idea of using masks in the future. Whilst COVID-19 has changed the nature of community mask use over the last couple of years, there is no guarantee that this event will influence an individual’s mask behavior during other events like bushfires. Instead, we must create social support processes for early and appropriate mask use, including the use of air quality monitoring.

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Concepts Keywords
Australian Air pollution
Interviews Communication
July Masks
Pulmonary Public health
Wildfire Respiratory health


Type Source Name
disease MESH asthma
pathway KEGG Asthma
disease MESH chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
drug DRUGBANK Medical air
disease IDO quality
disease MESH COVID-19
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Carbon monoxide
disease MESH bronchiectasis
disease MESH emergency
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease MESH premature deaths
drug DRUGBANK Polyethylene glycol
disease VO organ
disease VO efficient
drug DRUGBANK Nitrogen
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO time
drug DRUGBANK Ranitidine
drug DRUGBANK Methionine
disease IDO process
disease MESH infectious diseases
disease VO Thing
drug DRUGBANK Aspartame
disease VO mouth
drug DRUGBANK Prednisone
drug DRUGBANK Zolmitriptan
disease VO pregnant women
disease VO effective
disease MESH Allergy
disease MESH infection
disease VO Equity
disease VO document
drug DRUGBANK Huperzine B
drug DRUGBANK Isosorbide Mononitrate
drug DRUGBANK Tromethamine
disease VO Apa
disease IDO intervention
disease VO effectiveness

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