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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Can Masks Protect us from Air Pollution?

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Several pieces of research have shown that getting exposed to air pollution, be it brief or over a long period can lead to negative impacts on the lungs and hearts, potentially the brain as well. It is estimated that outdoor air pollutants have led to 3 million excess deaths around the world every year.

Due to the pandemic, face masks and respirators are easily available. However, choosing one from a glut of options can be a difficult task. Questions such as “Do all respirators and masks can protect me from pollutants?”, “Which type would work best for me?” and “Are expensive respirators substantially better than surgical masks” can easily pop up in your head.

For starters, pollution masks and mask respirators filter liquid and airborne particulate matter both big and small (PM10 and PM2.5), but they can’t protect you against gases, vapours, and chemicals. If you wear them properly, face masks can protect you against vehicle emissions which reduces the risk of respiratory and heart disease, and from viruses and bacteria. The n95 mask also protects against viruses and other infecting agents, but make sure to discard them after use.

All comes down to the fit

You need to adjust your mask so that it fits snugly and over the nose and mouth in order to stop polluted air from coming in. The effectiveness of masks, including those that are made using highly-efficient particle filtering material, is usually much lower than certified because of their poor facial fit and movement. Hence, it is advised to opt for masks that are designed to ensure your safety while considering your comfort too like Safekind pollution mask. Moreover, they have a soft elastic ear loop that ensures safety, without compromising on your comfort.

Maks that have head straps tend to fit better than those with elastic ear loops. Several studies have shown that even if you opt for high-quality masks, a good fit is paramount for protection as people tend to breathe harder under a mask which leads to more polluted air being drawn through leaks.

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Masks that are ‘N95’ and ‘N99’ mean that during their testing period, they blocked at least 95% to 99% of very small (0.3 microns) particles, respectively. If they fit you perfectly, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators are better than simple or surgical masks. In the end, if masks don’t have disposable filters, face masks and respirators should be only used once. If you reuse the mask then it can aggravate the risk of infections because masks trap humidity and heat which if combined with germs can lead to viral, fungal, and bacterial infection.

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