Air pollution is a global problem. We all know about it very well. According to World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 around 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure. According to a report released by UNICEF, 2 billion children live in areas with high toxic levels of outdoors air pollution-higher than the WHO safety level.
Growing Style of Air Pollution Face Masks
Pollution is increasing day by day, and it is very serious issue. Use of air face masks has been growing steadily in the past few years. Air filter masks are the easiest and most affordable solution to air pollution. They are a necessity in today’s global urban centers. Every time you, or a family member, steps outdoors, wearing a pollution face mask to minimize the ill-effects of pollutants in the air is a requirement. Face masks that filter out airborne particles can make a big difference in your exposure to air pollution. A mask with a high-quality filter that fits properly can be an effective measure against the inhalation of harmful pollutant particles as small as PM 2.5.
According to an article in qz.com, urban Chinese are spending huge money on anti-pollution face masks that are practically useless. Most buy simple surgical masks that do not filter PM 2.5 particulate matter. In many countries, people are using the wrong types of masks and are not using them properly. They assume they are getting protection but much of the polluted air is still getting into their lungs. So, it is important that you choose wisely and select quality mask that fits appropriately for the conditions you are in.
Current Trends and Fashion of Anti-Pollution Face Masks
In the past two years, trendy fashion designer pollution masks have entered the global marketplace. An urban mask with a high-quality filter that fits properly can be an effective measure against the inhalation of harmful pollutant particles. With thousands dying a year from poor air quality, it’s time to protect yourself with the best anti-pollution face mask. Leading mask brands like Vogmask, Respro, RZ Masks, 3M, O2TODAY, U-Mask, and Cambridge Mask Co. are blending high quality air purification with trendy fashion.
3M – 3M sells various N95 and N99 certified and relatively inexpensive disposable masks. You can find them at various pharmacies, or you can order these masks online. You can research the variety of different 3M models that are NIOSH certified on the U.S. CDC website.
Vogmask – Vogmask is a Francisco-based company. Vogmask sells fashionable reusable masks in adult and children’s sizes that are either N95 or N99 certified. Some of the masks come with a carbon filter layer and exhalation valve, which can make it easier to breath and not collect moisture or sweat.
Respro – UK-based Respro masks are predominantly for activity use such as cycling, running, etc. The company’s website says its masks are N99 rated with P3 European rated filters.
O2TODAY – Is a U.S. based company and the world’s first all-natural urban air mask designed to deliver the perfect balance of breathability and protection. O2TODAY masks are proven to capture up to 97% of all particulate matter at a flow rate of 95 liters/minute.
RZ Mask – RZ Mask is a UK based company with the goal to offer a mask that is sleek enough to fit under a sports helmet for cycling or motorbikes, comfortable enough to be worn all day, effective enough to filter 99.9% of harmful air particulates, and durable enough to be used day in and day out.
U-Mask – U-Mask is the evolution of an allergy masks, a dust mask and a respirator mask. The science of biotechnology and layering come together to create the highest standard protection, better than a N99 or N95 face mask, up to 99,86%.
Cambridge Mask – Cambridge Mask – UK-based Cambridge Mask Co was started by the former China Director for Vogmask who named the company after his alma mater, Cambridge University. According to its website, Cambridge masks are made of three layers of filters, including a military-grade carbon filter, and are NIOSH N99certified. The website also says its masks filter out 99.6% of viruses and 99.7% of bacteria.
Guoer – Guoer is a Chinese company mainly dedicated to developing, designing, and producing apparel for health care, leisure, outdoors and sports industries. Our masks are one size fits most. We use the theory of humanized design. Our masks are Pm2.5 with filter replacements, an M-shaped nose clip for a comfortable fit, and allow for easy breathability.
How Anti-Pollution Face Masks Work
Any Pollution mask with modern technology should protect the wearer from two kinds of pollutants.
1. Respiratory Suspended Particulate Matter with diameter less than 10μM (PM10) and less than 2.5 (PM2.5).
2. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
We can see three kinds of masks/respirators:
– The simple flat mask, also known as a surgical mask that doctors wear.
– The more sophisticated dust, chemical, and particulate mask known as a respirator can filter out N95 or N99 which is 95-99% of the most harmful particles and chemicals in the air.
– The post-apocalyptic gas mask made famous by the movie Mad Maxx or the villain Bane.
A surgical masks act as a simple filter from spreading ones own germs or against some particulate matter compared to a respirator which usually offers better protection from fine suspended particulate matter and microorganisms. A gas mask protects against chemical fumes depending on the kind of filter they are fitted with.
According to my knowledge, N-95 and N-99 respirators are your best bet when it comes to anti-pollution masks that actually work. Those codes represent the particle filter class; a N-95 respirator is able to filter out 95% of particulate matter (PM2.5) while a N-99 respirator is better because it filters 99% of particulate matter. A N-95 respirator is suitable for almost all pollutants including heavy metal salts, an ordinary mask filter does not protect one from noxious gases, for that you need a mask that is coated with absorbents like Alumina and Silica.
Health Concerns about Global Air Quality Problems
Richard Peltier is a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the Department of Public Health and Health Sciences. He studies the effects of exposure to air pollution. Recently, he was the lead author of a study on how well inexpensive face masks work. Peltier led a team that tested several types of inexpensive face masks they bought on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. These masks are commonly used in other polluted parts of the world.
Peltier calls the N95 mask a more advanced version of the inexpensive cloth masks that he studied. The researchers used the N95 mask in their study for comparison. However, Peltier says, N95 masks are either not available or too expensive in many places where pollution is severe. Also, he adds, it is made of paper. So, it can’t be washed and reused like cloth face masks.
The researchers found that the most popular type of mask – an inexpensive cloth rectangle that you can wash – provided little protection against the smallest particles. These particles of pollution are less than 2.5 micrometers and can penetrate deep into the lungs.
He adds that there are other face masks on the market that meet the expectation of an N95 mask, or even N99 mask. But most of these masks are too expensive. So, they are not an option for people in the developing world. He explains that cloth masks with exhalation valves performed better in testing. However, it is not the exhalation valve itself that makes the mask more effective. Face masks with these valves are usually thicker. The thicker material is what makes the mask better at keeping out pollutants. Also, surgical masks made out of paper performed surprisingly well. In an interview with the New York Times, Peltier explained that these paper masks didn’t fit as snugly to the face. But rather they stuck against the wearer’s wet mouth.
Growing Need for Clean Air in Urban Cities
City life has always been associated with foul air. In pre-industrial cities, smoke from thousands of fireplaces blended with the smell of cows, pigs, and sheep kept within city limits. Industrialization displaced the livestock, but brought thousands of smoke stacks with it. The post-war era saw urban industry cleaned up and moved to the outskirts of cities, but instead cars, busses and trucks conquered the urban landscape. For decades, leaded gasoline was a fact of life, and the toxic metal ended up in the lungs of children and in the soil of urban gardens.
Now the lead is gone, but particle pollution, NOx and noise from millions of internal combustion engines still affect the quality of life and health of our citizens. This needs to change. Half of all people on earth live in cities. We can no longer accept toxic air as part of urban life. It is not just another inconvenience to be tolerated, like crowded pavements, hungry pigeons and noisy neighbors. Air pollution is killing us and we must act now. Today, it is not only realistic but necessary to clean the air in our cities once and for all.
Particulate matter (PM) in the air can enter the human body, affecting the cardiovascular system as well as other major organs. Chronic exposure leads to a number of health risks. The JRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified the main categories of PM in urban air in 51 different cities around the world. On average, traffic is the biggest source of air pollution, responsible for one quarter of particulate matter in the air.
Professor Prashant Kumar, in ‘Air Quality and Health’, university of Surrey, said future urban planning need to consider designing and implementing more “green infrastructure”, such as trees or hedges in the built environment to create a healthier urban lifestyle. Green infrastructure in cities is an urban planning solution for improving air quality as well as enhancing the sustainability of cities for growing urban populations. These green solutions include street trees, vegetation barriers (including hedges), green (or living) walls, and green roofs. They act as porous bodies which influence local dispersion of pollution and aid the deposition and removal of airborne pollutants, making the air cleaner.
Choose Your Own Air
It’s time to protect future generations from the pollutants in the air we breathe. As governments and agencies work on the environmental factors there are companies creating products for us to choose our own air. Take personal responsibility for your own health. Breathe clean air.