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Pollution - How Different Masks Can Help You Protect Yourself?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care, Europeon Diploma In Adult Respiratory Medicine, Europeon Diploma In Intensive Care, Fellow
Pulmonologist, Delhi  •  22 years experience
Pollution - How Different Masks Can Help You Protect Yourself?

The air that we breathe in has become a cauldron of harmful and poisonous gases, particulate matter, chemical fumes and a host of similar toxic substances. Pollution, especially of the air is at an all-time rise. The quality of air is deteriorating with each passing day, triggering a plethora of health problems. Chronic and severe lung and respiratory disorders (such as COPD, Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma, Emphysema), heart and kidney problems, headache, burning eyes, are affecting people (irrespective of their age and sex) like never before. As per WHO, nearly 6.5 million premature deaths worldwide are reported yearly due to pollution, a depressing statistics indeed! Thus, necessary preventive measures should be followed to keep ourselves and our loved ones protected from the deleterious effects of pollution.

The use of Anti-pollution masks to deal with pollution

  • The anti-pollution masks come as a blessing for millions of desperate souls who have been frantically looking for a solution to tackle pollution.
  • The anti-pollution masks act as a shield against the harmful pollutants that often finds its way into our bodies.
  • The different face masks work by filtering out the hazardous particulate matter from the air.
  • Though industrial air masks and the surgical masks are available, most people prefer to go with the more superior quality anti-pollution masks such as N95, N99, and P95 masks.
  • The surgical masks seldom provide any protection from the air pollution as toxic air can pass through the masks without any difficulty.

N95, N99 and P25 Air Masks

  • The particulate matter (PM) in the air can be PM 2.5 or PM 10. PM 2.5 implies that the diameter of the particulate matter is 2.5 micrometers or less.
  • Increased exposure to PM10 (the diameter of the particulate matter is 10 micrometers or less) can result in severe bronchial and respiratory problems (coughing, wheezing, breathing problems, asthma), heart ailments and stroke, a shoot in the blood pressure.
  • As compared to PM 10, PM 2.5 remains suspended in the air for a longer time and can adversely affect the lungs (lung irritation and inflammation), heart (result in plaque formation in the arteries), throat and nose.
  • As indicative of the name, the N95 Air Masks come with superior grade filtration technology that can filter about 95% of the PM 2.5 from the inhaled air. However, when it comes to oil-based pollutants, the effectiveness of N95 air masks takes a downslide.
  • The N99 Air Masks comes with a better filtration rate and can filter out the PM 2.5 from the air with close to 99% efficiency. As seen in N95, the N99 air masks also fail to deliver against oil-based pollutants.
  • The P25 masks come with an added benefit. Unlike the N95 and N99 air masks, the P25 masks are effective against oil-based pollutants and are used to remove PM 2.5 with 95% efficiency.
  • However, be it N95, N99 or P25, one cannot use the masks for more than 40-42 hours (the filter loses its efficiency).
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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