Staying fit and healthy has become a top priority for a majority of us – we constantly monitor our sugar intake, check the expiry date on our food and exercise daily! Unfortunately, this may not be not enough to stay fit.
An alarming number of studies have indicated an invisible enemy that none of us can control – ‘Air Pollution’.
Yes, air pollution is killing us gradually – it is the number one cause of deaths in the world. But the good news is, there are many things you can do to minimise its effects. An air purifier is a logical alternative to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in this heavily polluted environment.
But you obviously can’t stay in your home throughout the day. Eventually, you will need to make your way through the grey-brown haze outside. In case if there is no other alternative, you absolutely need to wear an air pollution mask.
An anti-pollution mask is your best bet if you are on the go. This mask blocks the entry of tiny particulate matter and filters out any harmful chemicals as well.
There are varied choices of anti-pollution masks in the market these days. Therefore, it is vital to know what you need to keep yourself safe from pollution. The first step is to understand the basics. Read on to know more.
Identify the Pollutants
Some of the main sources of India’s poor air quality are industrial emissions, crop burning, dependence on fossil fuels and vehicular emissions. Therefore, an ideal pollution mask should be able to filter out pollutants like Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and suspended particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5) as well.
Particulate matter of size 10 and above get filtered at the level of the nose. However, those between 10 and 2.5 can reach your lungs and travel to various parts of the body through blood circulation. Worst are the particles which are less than 1 micron – these can directly enter your bloodstream and cause damage.
Understand the Mask Types
Your search for the right air pollution mask can be a confounding issue given that there are different types of masks out there – simple surgical masks, filter-based respirators and large gas-masks. So, to make this job simple, start by assessing the air pollution level in your vicinity and likewise select N-95 or N-99 masks.
Put simply, N-95 designation suggests that the mask will protect you from 95% of particulate matter and pollutants, while N-99 masks will protect you from 99% of pollutants, irritants and harmful gasses out there. Thus, providing a higher level of protection against air pollution.
Fit Matters the Most
One of the most critical factors in selecting the right mask is its fitting. Because an ill-fitted mask with loose ends can result in inhaling unfiltered air and will defeat the purpose of the mask altogether. Therefore, the mask should be a comfortable fit, sitting perfectly on your nasal bridge and must cover your entire nose and mouth.
Keep in mind – air pollutants are 50 times thinner than hair!
Therefore, it is pivotal to ensure that the mask fits you right. To avoid issues like poor fitting, you can opt for masks with adjustable straps. Additionally, while buying masks for your children, make it a point to purchase kid-friendly models.
Check for Ventilation
Air pollution masks which have adequate provision for ventilation ensure a continuous outflow of exhaled air so that you do not feel moist or warm with the mask on. So, for people who are active runners or cyclists, a mask with exhale valves is recommended.
Additionally, look for masks with CO2 outlet, especially if you are using it while exercising. Generally, these outlets close when you breathe in and open when you breathe out.
Make an Informed Decision
Apart from the points mentioned above, you can also consider the re-usability of the mask. While a few masks are of ‘one-time use’, which implies you use it in the morning and dispose of by night, some masks can be washed and utilized multiple times. Retailers like BreatheEasy offer anti-pollution masks which come with triple layer protection and filter out more than 99% of particulate pollution.
The bottom line is – anti-pollution masks have become imperative these days, especially if you are living in a highly polluted area. The use of these masks can go a long way in shielding you from rising pollution levels.