How face masks reduce your exposure to air pollution?
All over Asia and many other countries, people wear medical masks on the street. In China, the habit began in 2003, when health authorities recommended wearing medical masks to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Today, many Chinese people regularly wear masks made from a variety of fabrics to reduce the risk of catching or transmitting the common cold or flu.
However, more and more masks are worn for another reason – because of air pollution. Although the tissue can filter out large particles of dust, pollen, and sand, it does not block smaller particles that travel to the lungs, arteries, and veins. These include particulate matter less than 2.5 microns and ultrafine particles (less than 0.1 microns), as well as toxic fumes from automobiles and industry.
It has long been no secret that the air in cities, especially large ones, to put it mildly, is not quite clean. Car exhaust gases, emissions from factories and industrial enterprises, “smells” of landfills, etc. – all this “clogs” our body with toxic chemicals. But until you see it with an armed eye, people don’t twitch. And as soon as there are emergencies – for example, forest fires accompanied by abundant smog, or an accident at a factory that smoked half the city – there comes the peak of popularity of gauze bandages.
Disposable masks are not for smoke:
Strangely enough, ordinary medical masks are the most popular. Yes, maybe during the flu epidemic season, they make sense, and then more so for the virus carrier, as a barrier against the spread of their infection through coughing or sneezing. And in a smokey atmosphere, to hold up at least some smoke, they need to be constantly wetted. Thus, in a couple of hours, the mask, let’s say, will fail, without providing the desired protection, but only increasing breathing resistance.
That’s if you get through construction dust or get into the epicenter of heavy repairs such as crushing, it makes sense to use such a mask here, as it protects you from large non-toxic particles wonderfully.
The advantages of disposable half masks are of course in their availability – they can be found in any pharmacy for almost a penny.
When are the masks effective?
Of course, modern models of filter half masks are not bounded by this kind of bandages. Even among disposable and also very inexpensive respirator masks, you can choose models with a reinforced filter that can limit access to the body and finer dust like UVmask. However, the effectiveness of masks on city streets is still very difficult to measure.
First of all, all half masks with a built-in filter protect the body exclusively from dust or aerosols, and dangerous vapors or gases will still penetrate through them. Secondly, the dust can also be different. And even high-end half masks will not provide 100% protection against fine dust but here UVmask stands at a better position when compared to others.
If you still want to reduce the ingress of smoke, smog, or dust in your daily life, it makes sense to wear filter half masks with a built-in filter, but only in really critical situations.
With the usual life rhythm, it will be much more effective to just avoid places where harmful emissions accumulate – walk away from the roadway, drive in a car with closed windows, etc. And wearing the mask all the time will create a false sense of security and as a result, can exclude your stay away from the contaminated area.