August 15, 2018 3:40 pm

Surgical masks offer little protection against wildfire smoke: UBC prof

Surgical masks may actually not be doing anything to protect you.

File / Global News
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With smokey air lingering in much of the province, many are taking health precautions such as wearing a surgical mask when outside or even on public transit.

But those masks may actually not be doing anything to protect you.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire update Wednesday: Massive Shovel Lake wildfire now 50,000 hectares

Professor at the school of population and public health at UBC, Michael Brauer says surgical masks give a false sense of security.

“So you wear a mask and you actually end up exposing yourself to more pollution than you would otherwise.”

READ MORE: Special air quality statement ends for most of the province after days of smoky conditions

He says there’s really no benefit to wearing them on your commute to work, and there may even be a downside.

“If you’re going to be going to work, and you’re wearing it on the bus and you’re going to go to work anyways, then really the only concern there is that it can be more difficult to breathe.”

WATCH: B.C. declares state of emergency due to wildfires

He says masks are typically only beneficial for people with pre-existing health conditions, as they provide just a small amount of protection.

Brauer says if you are healthy, the impacts of the wildfire smoke are really only temporary.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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