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We are already aware that the only remaining free resource that we consume in abundance - air – has turned toxic. It is estimated that we smoke 20+ cigatettes per day in Urban India, just by breathing. The most cost effective way to protect ourselves from its ill-effects is an anti-pollution mask. Wearing a mask in India, and especially if you are living in a metro city is no longer an option, but a necessity. Well, all masks are not equal and here are the factors you need to consider to buy a pollution that’s right for you:
1. Filter Since the concentration of carcinogenic ultrafine particles is sky high in urban India – about 10 times the WHO safe level on a good day, we recommend masks with a N99 Filter. The mask also must have an activated carbon filter to filter gases, chemicals and odours.
2. Certification Ensure that the mask that you buy is certified by CE as a Personal Protective Equipment. We recommend EN 149:2001+A1:2009 FFP2 R certification at a minimum. FFP2 is simply a class of respirator for a level of wearer protection. FFP2 implies that the mask reduces the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles by a factor of 10.
|CLASS||FILTER PENETRATION LIMIT (at 95L/min air flow)||INWARD LEAKAGE|
|FFP2||Filters at least 94% of airborne particles||<8%|
The R in FFP2 R stands for reusable and certifies the non-disposable and long life feature of the mask. A lot of masks mention conforms to and similar vague language – the mask should have a CE certification mark on the physical surface.
3. Functionality Your search for a perfect mask should include these 3 important factors: validity, effectiveness, and comfort. An ideal mask should last up to 4 months with all its effectiveness. Prefer a mask which is washable and reusable for better comfort and value for money. The R in the CE certification FFP2 R stands for reusability.
4. Fit Possibly the most important factor in selecting a mask. A mask that is ill-fitting will leak air and is practically useless. Make sure that you buy a mask that seals your face completely – so all the air you inhale is filtered.
5. Exhale Valves We recommend pollution masks with an exhale valve since this makes the mask more breathable. Those engaged in activity or using the mask for exercise should consider a mask with 2 exhale valves for added breathability.
6. Style/Fashion Maybe a lesser consideration, however, you are more likely to protect yourself for longer periods, if the mask is stylish and fashionable.