Air pollution is increasing now a day. Air pollution simply means the introduction of particulates, biological molecules, or other harmful substances into atmosphere. It is cause of various disease. It causes allergies. In severe form it causes death. Delhi is most polluted city. Approximately 1.3 million deaths in India is seen due to air pollution.
Clean air is considered to be a basic requirement of human health and well-being. However, air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health worldwide.
Air quality guidelines relate to four common air pollutants: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Evidence for ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM) indicates that there are risks to health.
Particulate Matter PM 2.5
Atmospheric particulate matter of diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres is PM 2.5. It is responsible for respiratory problems and reduces visibility. PM 2.5 particles can only be detected with the help of an electron microscope. PM 2.5 particles can easily bypass the nose and throat. They can easily enter the circulatory system causing chronic diseases such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. To protect oneself from PM 2.5 air purifier equipped with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) filter can be used.
Sources of PM 2.5 particles–
- Burning candles and lamps
- Burning crops
- Tobacco smoke
- Vehicle exhaust
Respiratory Protection from Pollution
A respirator is a protective device that covers the nose and mouth or the entire face or head to guard the wearer against hazardous atmospheres. Respirators may be:
Tight-fitting: that is, half masks, which cover the mouth and nose and full facepieces that cover the face from the hairline to below the chin; or
Loose-fitting: such as hoods or helmets that cover the head completely.
In addition, there are two major classes of respirators:
Air-purifying: which remove contaminants from the air; and
Atmosphere-supplying: which provide clean, breathable air from an uncontaminated source. As a general rule, atmosphere-supplying respirators are used for more hazardous exposures.
Tight-fitting: They of two types
Half masks: which cover the mouth and nose.
Full face pieces: which covers full face from the hairline to below the chin.
First modern respirator was developed in early 1900s. These masks are developed-
To protect miners, form hazardous dusts and gases.
Protect soldiers from chemical warfare agents.
Protect fire fighters from smoke and carbon monoxide.
Face masks are used to filter out airborne particles. It is very good tool when a mask with a high-quality filter fits properly. It can prevent inhalation of harmful pollutant particles as small as PM 2.5.
Types of Mask
Always look for a mask with U.S NIOS or EU FFP ratings. Certification and ratings of mask is important. This clearly indicate that the mask has been tested and meets required standards to filter out small particles present in environment.
N95, N99 or P100: It is a U. S government approved certification from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
It is recommended that before buying a mask, make sure that it is N95 certified. Cheap masks are not tested for filtration performance.
NIOSH N95 certification means that the mask should filter out 95 percent of particles greater than 0.3 microns, which is much smaller than PM 2.5.
N99 respirators filter greater than or equal to 99 percent of these particles.
EN 149 FFP2 or FFP3 rating: It is a rating which is European Union tested.
What are surgical masks?
Surgical masks were earlier constructed from layers of cotton gauze. In early 1900s to prevent, they were first worn by surgery staff to prevent contamination of open surgical wounds. It is a loose-fitting disposable device that prevents the release of contaminant from patients to other people in environment.
Always make sure that the mask fits securely and that there are no gaps to let outside air in. If there is a gap in mask, it will allow air toxic air in respiratory system. It will be no use to apply mask, as it will not filter out harmful pollutants.
Always check the mask’s material to ensure that ti can filter out small particles.
Make sure that mask is well ventilated.
Mask Brand Available in India
3M: It sells various N95 and N99 certified masks. It is inexpensive disposable masks. It can be easily available in various pharmacies throughout Delhi.
Cambridge Mask: It is UK-based Cambridge Mask Co product. It was started by the former China Director for Vogmask who named the company after his alma mater. It is a three-layered filter. It is NIOSH N99 certified. It is claimed to protect 99.6% of viruses and 99.7% of bacteria.
Atlanta Healthcare’s Cambridge Masks are more expensive. It starts from 1,500. It has military grade filters. Company claims that it removes 99 percent of particles. It has carbon fibre layer which traps bacteria and viruses. It also helps to filter out bad odours.
Vogmask: It is a San Francisco-based company which began selling its masks in India in 2014. It is a fashionable reusable mask which can be used by adults and children. It has carbon filter layer and exhalation valve, which can make it easier to breath and not collect moisture or sweat.
Totobobo: It is a Singaporean-based company that sells reusable N95 masks that can be trimmed and shaped to fit individual faces. It consists of filter inserts that need to be replaced. This company also makes smaller petite mask designed for women and children. The only reseller is in Bangalore.
Respro: It is UK based company which makes masks for daily activity such as cycling and running. It is said that these masks are N99 rated with P3 European rated filters.
Price of various types of masks–
N95 (and above) Masks Price
- 3M 8210 Rs. 93
- Honeywell H801 Rs. 449 (for 3)
- 3M Aura Rs. 249
- Dettol Siti Shield Protect+ Rs. 249
- Atlanta Healthcare Cambridge Rs. 1,599
- Vogmask Rs. 2,000
- Respro Techno Rs. 2,999
- Totobobo Rs. 5,351
Vogmask are similar to Atlanta Healthcare’s Cambridge Masks. It is rated N99, which means that it is effective against 99 percent of particulate matter. Both these masks can be used for 6 months. These masks can be cleaned in under running water.
Precautions while using these masks:
- Don’t use high heat or pressure.
- Don’t use soap or detergents.
- Please check that word NIOSH/ EN, N95, N99, FFP3 is written on mask before using.
Precaution while using N95 Respirator:
Patient with disease like respiratory, heart disease or other conditions which make breathing difficult, should use the mask with precaution as N 95 masks make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe.
N95 respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in sterile conditions.
N95 mask should not be used if a person is feeling uncomfortable. Elderly, pregnant women and people with severe lung or heart problems should not use it for longer time.
Women in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy may already have reduced lung volumes or breathing issues. They should stop using a N95 mask if they feel uncomfortable.
N95 masks work only if it has good fit with the face of the wearer. It must be kept in mind that wearer should take breathe through filters and not through gaps between the mask and wearer’s face.
N95 mask can cause discomfort in breathing, tiredness or headache.
Surgical masks should not be used for controlling air pollution, as they do not provide respiratory protection as an N95 respirator.
Surgical masks only provide barrier protection against droplets including large respiratory particles. They do not filter small particles form the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.