Context There has been a surge in public demand over the 2019/2020 Australian Summer to use respiratory protection against poor air quality from the extensive bushfires and more recently against the transmission of SARS -CoV -2.
Analysis This demand has created several issues including:
Uncertified and non fit–for–purpose products flooding the international marketplace via direct advertising;
Insufficient information being available to support members of the public in how to use face masks correctly, further underpinned by frequent images of incorrect usage of face masks across popular media;
Use of respiratory protection by sections of the general population for which respirators were not designed for i.e. children and those with pre–existing respiratory disorders. In the general population, the use of respirators designed for healthy adults may result in adverse effects on susceptible populations.
Concerns that use of face masks are not appropriate for certain public health hazards, and that their use can actually increase the risk of exposure (Bin–Reza et al 2012, Huang and Morawska, 2019); and
A severe shortage of approved products (P2/N95) for those at high risk such as firefighters and health care workers.
Outcomes This presentation explores the different types of Respiratory Protection Devices and systematically reviews the scientific evidence of their efficacy against these Public Health respiratory hazards. Evidence-based recommendations are made and a novel infographic will be presented for use as a community engagement and education tool.
A call is also made for a publically available online register of approved products.
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