Protect Your Lungs from
Wildfire Smoke or Ash
Wildfire smoke and ash can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.They can make you cough or
wheeze, and can make it hard to breathe. A respirator is a device (mask) that covers your nose and
mouth, fits tightly to your face, and can filter out smoke or ash particles before you breathe them in.
Respirators are not sized for children.
Protecting Your Health
The most effective way to protect yourself
during wildfire emergencies is to stay indoors or
limit your time outdoors when there is smoke
in the air. This is especially important if you
have heart or lung disease and are at higher risk
for adverse health effects. Reducing physical
activity and using HEPA-filtered air cleaners
indoors are other ways to reduce your smoke
exposure. Consider temporary relocation out
of the smoky area if possible. By limiting your
exposure one of these ways, you may not need
to wear a respirator.
Respirators Can Help Protect Your
How Do I Know if I Need to Wear a
People who stay indoors or limit their time
outdoors during wildfire emergencies are
doing the most effective thing to avoid
exposure and may not need to wear a
People who must be outside for extended
periods of time in smoky air or an ash-
covered area may benefit from using a
tight-fitting N95 or P100 respirator to
reduce their exposure.
People experiencing health effects from
a smoky environment, even if indoors, may
also benefit from using a tight-fitting
respirator to reduce their exposure.
For people who want to wear a respirator,
learning how to select and correctly use the
respirator is important for achieving the
most protection possible.
N95 or P100 respirators can help protect your
lungs from smoke or ash. Straps must go
above and below the ears.

Choose the Correct Respirator
Respirators are sold at many hardware and
home repair stores and pharmacies.
Choose a "particulate respirator"that has
been tested and approved by the National
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH). It will have the words "NIOSH"and
either "N95" or "PI 00" printed on it.
Choose a respirator that has two (2) straps to
go around your head.
Choose a size that will fit over your nose and
under your chin and seal tightly to your face.
Any leakage around the edge of the mask
causes unfiltered air to enter and be inhaled.
Do NOT choose a mask with only one strap
or two straps that go around your ears. They
are not designed to seal tightly to the face
and will not protect your lungs.
How to Use this Type of Respirator
 To get a secure fit, place the respirator over
your nose and underyour chin, with one
strap placed below the ears and one strap
above the ears (see photo on page 1).
Pinch the metal part of the respirator (if
there is one) over the top of your nose so it
fits securely.
Follow instructions on the package about
how to check for a tight face seal.
Make sure the skin is clean shaven where
the respirator touches the face. A good
seal is not possible with facial hair.
 Throw away your respirator when it gets
harder to breathe through, or if it gets
Possible Risks
Wearing a respirator can make it harder
to breathe. If you have heart or lung
problems, ask your doctor before using a
If you have difficulty breathing, get dizzy,
or have other symptoms while wearing a
respirator, go to a place with cleaner air
and remove it.
Wearing a respirator, especially if it's hot or
you are physically active, can increase the
risk of heat-related illness. Take breaks often
and drink water.
For more information:
To learn more about protecting yourself from wildfire smoke, contact your local or state health
department or go to www.airnow.gov
To learn more about respirators, visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp part/default.html
Infographic about respirators: https://www.airnow.gov/publications/fire-mask-respirator-and-palm-cards-
How to put on and remove your respirator: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-133/pdfs/2010-133.pdf


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  EPA- 452/F-21-003