The Black Rock Desert is known for its white-out storms of dust that stop the city at any time, day or night. Winds can reach up to 80 mph (130 km/h), causing unsafe whiteout conditions that, without proper equipment, can cause you to choke on the playa dust. Veteran burners can guarantee that breathing in too much playa dust can take its toll on your vocal cords and lungs.
Typically, the most extreme dust storms are unusual and happen at any Burn just a few times. But just biking around the Playa can cause agitation in your lungs through inhaling in enough dust.
A good solution is to always have three types of dust masks accessible to avoid harming your lungs. A scarf is the first mask type to stay with you day and night.
We advise that everybody has a scarf because it’s the most practical item you can have. You can use it to cover your head, shield your upper arms, cool yourself by wetting it down, provide cushion for the ground or seats, and even transform it into an emergency dust mask.
Carry with you at all times, apart from the scarf, a practical dust mask. These masks have professional filtration and designs intended to keep your lungs from inhaling dust and contaminants. And just because they keep the particulates out doesn’t mean that they’re boring.
Now a scarf is a great mask for an emergency, but not as useful as a simple, less professional mask. You should also have a little fabric mask when the need occurs, which is not as good as the professional masks above when filtering particles. But it will provide some defense and they are more comfortable overall. Stay safe, and in dust we trust.
Looking for a Burning Man Camp?
Pathogen Trackers is a Burning Man theme camp offering a unique experience to Burners. We dedicate ourselves to serving our fellow burners by giving them what they need — either food, water, shelter, or transportation around the playa. Learn more about our mission and how to join us at this year’s event: