Ever wondered how a mask for air pollution really works? We tell you.
It is said that a new problem grips mankind with the passage of 50 years. This may well be true – while we continue to grapple with global warming, poverty, loss of natural resources and exploding global populations, another problem has the world firmly in its grip: air pollution.
Worryingly, this is a problem that does not show signs of going away any time soon. Our Government is trying hard to tackle the menace of urban air pollution. The State Government of Delhi too, tried its unique ‘odd-even’ formula for car owners in the city. But instead of waiting for the Government to (literally) clear the air, it is important to arm yourself with basic implements to safeguard your health in the face of rising air pollution.
Face piece. This is the part of the mask that is in direct contact with the face. It is designed to fit over the nose, cheeks, jawline and chin. It can be made of toughened plastic, cushioned fabric or rubber. It must be pliable so as to fit the contours of any user’s face, or any size of face (for instance, if a child is using it). However, there may be different sizes of air pollution masks available.
Air filtering cartridge. This is the component of the air pollution mask that filters out all the harmful elements in the air that you are about to breathe. The air filter assembly removes the finest particulate matter, smoke particles, dust and dirt in the air that you are about to inhale. Thus, the air sample is purified and made safe to breathe. Look for the N95 or N99 certification on the mask, which shows that the mask is able to remove over 95% of the particulate and other matter entering the mask.
A micro fan. This is another vital component of the mask for air pollution. It removes all the filtered pollutants from inside the mask and expels it outside. At the same time, it provides ventilation inside the mask so that there is no build-up of heat, sweat and hot air inside the mask, which would make it uncomfortable to wear. The micro fan adjusts the temperature inside the mask to a more comfortable level.
Straps to tighten or fit the mask. Once you wear the mask, you have to ensure that it stays in place for as long as you wish to wear it. The mask for air pollution will come fitted with adjustable straps that you can loosen or tighten as per your need. It is better to have adjustable straps, or strong elastic straps that will not snap with a few uses.
Can you clean the mask?
The best masks for air pollution can be cleaned easily using plain running water. However, you might wish to dissemble the mask’s face piece and air filtering cartridge before cleaning. Do follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions to the T, so that you do not end up damaging the mask in any way. Some manufacturers recommend changing the air filtering cartridge assembly every few months or after a certain number of uses. It is always a good idea to have extra cartridges stocked up so that you or your loved ones never run out of them.