Do you need an air mask?

Regardless of whether you feel breathless outdoors or not, if the air has visible smog and you haven’t seen clear blue skies in months, then you need to use an air mask.

Rising air pollution is a grim reality of our times, and it is best to accept that air pollution is one of the biggest culprits causing illness and even death. Everybody – man or woman, young or old, human or animal – is affected by the rising air pollution. But it’s not time to lay down the gauntlet to it yet – just get an air mask filter and read on.

Particulate matter is your deadliest enemy

You can protect yourself when you can see poor air quality – the smoggy sky, grey atmosphere and a slightly smoky smell to the air that you breathe in. All of these are evidence of the fact that you are breathing in highly polluted air, and that you must stay away from so much pollution. But what about the pollutants that you cannot see, but which pose a greater threat to your health? Particulate matter in the air is the single biggest cause of a variety of respiratory and heart ailments.

As the name suggests, ‘particulate matter’ is any solid pollutant in the air that is formed because of polluting behavior that releases smoke, soot, and harmful gases into the environment. While some particulate matter is large enough to be visible to the naked eye – such as dust particles that you can see in a strong beam of light – others are invisible. The smaller the particle, the more invisible it becomes. Particulate matter size is measured in microns, and anything below 2.5 microns is considered dangerous for humans.

This is because particulate matter below 2.5 microns cannot be held at bay by the nasal hair, nor can it be stopped from entering the nasal passages with the air that you inhale. These microscopic particles then settle inside the nasal cavity and the lungs. The lungs must now work doubly hard to expel them, while the accumulated particles begin to cause irritation and inflammation inside the nasal tract. The body responds by creating more mucus to remove these particles – the resulting cold and cough can keep you sick for days!

Over a longer period of time, however, the accumulated toxins in the form of particulate matter cannot be effectively removed by the respiratory system, and they begin to cause many illnesses. Thus, the best way to prevent them from entering the system is to stall their entry by using an air mask filter.

What does an air mask do?

It is fitted with an air mask filter – this is its most important component, which removes all the particulate matter from the air that enters the mask. The best masks have highly sensitive air mask filters that keep out even the finest particulate matter and prevent it from entering the nose and mouth.

While the air mask filters the air that you are about to breathe, the mask keeps the lower part of your face cool inside the mask. It does this with the help of a micro fan attached to the mask – the fan keeps the mask from getting overheated and clammy with sweat. Thus, you can use it for extended periods of time without feeling the need to remove it for any reason.

So do you need an air mask or not?

You instinctively know if the air you are breathing is pure or not. This explains why you feel more energized in an open meadow or at the beach, where the chances of air pollution are low. The higher the oxygen content in the air, the better you feel. In contrast, you immediately know if the air you breathe is polluted – it makes you splutter, cough or feel uneasy.

If you live in an Indian city or town, the chances of the air being polluted are quite high. It does not matter whether you can see the pollutants in the air or not. It is better to play it safe by wearing a mask fitted with an efficient air mask filter that purifies the air that you breathe, thus keeping you safe. You can buy air masks for the entire family, and teach your children how to wear them when they go to school or play.

About Carrie McCubbin