Air masks till last year were something foreigners would be seen wearing, local native Delhiites would rarely if ever wear them.
Even if someone did wear them, they were teased for acting like a doctor or something and even still there wasn’t much need for them in the first place.
But the environmental hazard that we all saw last year, where Delhi was immersed in a thick smog for longer than a few days, lasting almost 3-4 weeks, brought forward some things we, the citizens of Delhi were not aware of till yet.
The fact that the air pollution in Delhi was at an alarming rate, one that was extremely dangerous to the people of the city and that if certain measures were not taken immediately, it could lead to some very dire consequences.
This brought forth the need for air masks what would purify the air and allow one to breathe in the non-toxic air. The situation had reached such a level that even the govt. was recommending people to air these masks and not step out of their house without one.
However, it seems that there is a lot of confusion about what exactly these masks are for, what they should do and what you should be looking for in such masks.
Well, in a bid to clear up the air (pun intended) here are a few things you should always look for when buying an air mask:
1. What Kind Of Mask To Choose:
There are two types of pollutants in the air, one is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) and the other is the one that is more commonly found in cities that is respiratory suspended particulate matter that are also put in the category of PM10 or PM2.5.
You must always go for masks that can at least filter out matter that is PM2.5 in size, as these pollutants can later settle and clog your throat, lungs, nose and a study reported that it can even deposit plaque in your arteries that can harden them and eventually lead to a heart attack.
So a mask that can filter out this pollutant is a must, always check the specifications when buying a mask and see what pollutants it can filter out.
Do not buy a surgical mask as they are practically useless in filtering air at all, and on the other hand, also do not buy the industrial kind because you frankly don’t need such heavy-duty ones.
Choose a ‘respirator’ type of mask that is made for filtering out and purifying the air and is made for city and regular use.
Read More: Finally Delhi Government Has A Plan To Tackle Delhi’s Air Pollution Level
2. What Does N95, N99, And N100 Mean?
You might see these figures written on certain air masks you are browsing through and basically, they reveal how much percentage of pollutants they can filter out.
An N95 mask can filter out 95% of the PM2.5 matter, N99 can filter out 99% and N100 about 99.7% of the matter without any problem.
You could even look at the P and R series as these filter out even the oil based pollutants, but it would be recommended not to go for them since they are more expensive, hard to find and meant for industrial use rather than the city.
3. Are These Masks Expensive?
Not really, a lot of them you can find online or even offline at various outlets in Delhi, at really good prices.
As stated above, the more their rating gets the more expensive they become as they are doing more heavy-duty stuff.
But masks that are N95 rated can come in as less as INR 500 or so. A smart thing to do would also be to buy a pack of 10 or 15 of these masks as it is recommended that you don’t wear a mask for longer than a few days. The filters of these masks can get clogged and will stop doing their job if overused.
So buy a big pack of slightly budget air masks and throw them away after 2-3 days of use rather than buy an expensive one.
4. Can You Buy Them Online?
Of course, a lot of these masks can either be bought from their official site of e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart and so on.
One thing to be very careful of when buying air masks one is whether they have been tested or not. A good thing would be to see whether they are certified N99 and are in compliance with NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).
A lot of masks might say that they are in compliance with NIOSH but are not N99 certified, there is a difference between the two. So keep a lookout for that.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fit and size of the masks, be careful of what you are choosing as them being too loose would result in them slipping often and too tight could not allow you to breathe properly.
Image Credits: Google Images