A randomised controlled clinical trial of mask use in control of respiratory outcomes during bushfire season

BREATHE - Bushfire smoke, asthma, lung disease and masks
Disease or condition
Asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis

Study description/purpose
The aim of this research is to determine whether the use of surgical masks and P2 masks protects people with asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis from the effects of smoke exposure during bushfire season in Australia. We will compare exposure reduction methods including surgical masks, P2 masks facemasks and avoiding outdoor activities. There is no clinical efficacy data to support the choice and use of facemasks, P2 masks or staying indoors for protection against bushfire smoke. This study is part of an urgent call for research into the health effects of bushfires.

Recruitment criteria
Adults who have asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis and their suburb is affected by smoke or in a postcode which is identified as potentially exposed to bushfire smoke.

What’s involved
People who consent to being in the study will be randomly allocated to one of three groups: surgical masks, P2 masks or outdoor air avoidance. They will be required to fill in a form at the start and the end of the study, and their health will be tracked during a maximum of 4 weeks around controlled backburning between August and November 2021, and through all of December 2021 through February 2022 this summer. A final period of follow up will occur in April 2022. Participants will receive air quality alerts as a trigger to wear their mask or avoid outdoor activities and will fill in a short diary card each day. Masks will be posted to you.

Benefits (gift cards, etc)
None

Study sponsor/funder
The Kirby Institute, funded by the Australian Medical Research Futures Fund.

Research team contacts
Dr Elizabeth Kpozehouen
Email: [email protected]