How to choose the right pollution mask/respirator

guy with pollution mask on

With the pollution level increasing and the government declaring the situation as an emergency in Delhi, it is imperative to start using a pollution mask especially when you are outdoors. It is all the more important to know which is the right pollution mask that will actually help you breathe clean air.
So make sure you consider the following factors while buying an anti-pollution mask.

1. Respirators vs surgical masks

The biggest mistake people make is buying a surgical mask for pollution. Surgical masks merely stop large particles and mucus from the wearer into the surrounding air. They are not manufactured to prevent the wearer from breathing pollutants. Respirators are the ones you are looking for.

2. Which pollutants?

Do some research in knowing which air pollutants i.e. gases, salts or suspended particulate matter you are working against. On the basis of these, you need a corresponding respirator which will block those particular pollutants. Here is a nice respirator selection guide by 3M.
Chances are you are looking for a mask which blocks PM2.5 particulates. For this, N95 and N99 mask are the one to opt for. N95 and N99, indicate filtering ability of 95% and 99% respectively.

3. Fitting

Make sure the mask as a nose clip, which makes a seal around the nasal area. Without a good seal, the mask is as useful as a “see-through gift wrapping paper”. Pointless, right?

4. Mask life

Generally, disposable masks have a lifespan of 48 hours. Make sure you stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines on the usage life and moreover check the mask for contamination as the lifespan really depends on the usage, which varies from user to user.

Please use the comments section if you have a query or have anything to add regarding choosing the right pollution mask.

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