With the recent eruption of Taal Volcano and the awareness of Filipinos regarding air pollution, people have been more aware and have been advised to wear a mask, making it a necessity and a staple good in each household. However, most people do not know that there are proper masks to wear in certain types of environments. With the influx of different types, sizes, and shapes of masks available at the market that claim different things, it surely is confusing which one to choose.
Here we'll discuss what to consider and recommend masks that will keep you safe from air pollution. We also included a DIY video and a link on the best sewing machines (should you need on) so that you could make your own in case masks are unavailable.
Read on to find out what they are!
To keep you safe from air pollution, get a mask that has a filter rating, fits your face pefectly that does not leave any gap for harmful airborn particles to enter.
The N95 mask is one of the three types of filters available for respiratory masks. The three types are namely "N" which means that it is not resistant to oil and it could only filter out solid and water-based particulates, "R" somewhat resistant to oil, and "P" strongly resistant to oil.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) evaluates, tests, and approves these filter ratings to guarantee safety and level of performance of masks.
There are basically three number labels - 95, 99, and 100. These numbers refer to the efficiency of the filter. For example, 95 means that the mask is able to filter 95% of very small test particles (at least 0.3 microns) in the air. So the higher the number, the higher the filter efficiency it has.
Do note, however, that the price point may be more expensive for the higher filter efficiency.
A respirator is a tight-fitting mask that forms a tight seal on the skin so that it leaves no space or gaps for the airborne particles to infiltrate the nose or the mouth.
A face mask or a surgical mask, on the other hand, is loose-fitting and it does not form a seal around the nose and mouth. Surgical masks provide a physical barrier that blocks large-particle droplets or splashes from reaching the nose and the mouth.
Surgical masks are not really recommended since it is loosely fitted, and small particles may be infiltrated and transmitted, not providing full protection.
No matter how high quality your mask is, if it does not fit you correctly then it is of no help at all. A mask that's too small for your face may give you breathing difficulties. For a mask that's too large, there is a high chance of particles to infiltrate the spaces or gaps around the mask, enabling you to inhale it.
The packaging usually indicates the size of the mask. Medium is generally a size that fits all but if you think that your have a smaller or larger face, do choose what you think would be appropriate for your face. If you are unsure of your size, it is always helpful and reliable to read the product's sizing guide and not buy masks in bulk so that in case you get the wrong size, it wouldn't be a waste.
Some brands also offer just one standard size but have adjustable straps. Make sure that you read fitting instructions or watch available instructable videos online so that you know how to get the correct fit of the mask.
Do note that people who has a beard may not get full protection from a mask because a proper fit would not be achieved.
For comfortability, a mask with valve is recommended when doing physical activities and rigorous exercises for air to flow faster and for moisture to not accumulate inside the mask. However, if you are just doing simple and light acitivities, a valve is not necessary.
Masks with valve are also recommended to those who are wearing eyeglasses to avoid misting of the eyeglasses.
A high-quality reusable mask lessens the task of buying a new mask every now and then and it helps the environment as well. It is cost-effective and longer-lasting compared to disposable masks.
However, make sure that you follow proper care and maintenance, and also read the product description so you know when to toss it.
Scroll down below to find out the best masks to combat air pollution!
Cambridge Mask Co
Disposable Respirator 8822 P2
2310 N99 Premium Particulate Respirator With Exhale Valve
VFlex™ Particulate Respirator 9105
Pro N99 Filtered Face Mask
Particulate Respirator 8210
Lite Face Mask
801 N95 Disposable Mask
Activated Carbon Mask
|Features||Lightweight Twin-Strap Mask...||A Mask That Could Withstand...||Lightweight Non-Bulky Mask ...||A Reusable N99 Mask Where F...||Tried and Trusted N95 Mask ...||A Reusable N99 Mask with Di...||An N95 Mask with a Soft Lin...||Made from an All-Natural Fi...||A Single-Use Sweat-Absorben...||Activated Carbon Mask for O...|
Surgical masks, when worn, do not provide a tight-fit, leaving gaps that may cause infiltration of different particles. So this being said, you only get minimal protection from surgical masks.
With the recent shortage of respirator masks available in the market, the production of cloth masks and DIY masks has increased. Cloth and DIY masks only have minimal protection, the same way but in a lesser performance and effectivity surgical masks provide.
Surgical masks are better used when you are sick or you are in contact with a sick person to prevent infection and limit the spread of germs.
In essence, it is not recommended to use surgical masks, cloth masks, or DIY maks as a means of protection for air pollution.
Time to get those hands and creativity working! If you can't buy a mask then you could make your own. We mentioned above that cloth or DIY masks' effectivity is not at par with N95s but some protection is still better than no protection right?
Insert a filter in your DIY mask for added protection!
This one requires no sewing and materials can be readily-found at home.
The air that we breathe directly affects our body's wellness so it is of high importance that the air we breathe is clean and not contaminated by harmful particles. Now that you know the main points to consider when buying a mask to protect yourself from air pollution, we hope that you will be able to breathe easily and deeply and enabling yourself room for relaxation.
Author： Issa Honda
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