The winter is upon us, and that means it is time to pull out the woollens, blankets and prepare the collection of exotic types of tea and coffee for the cold winter evenings. But you are forgetting one very important thing—an anti-pollution mask. That is because the cooler temperatures see a spike in air borne pollution, which is caused by many factors, including industrial emissions, road dust, garbage burning, lighting up of the farm residue and construction work. The dust, pollution and particulate matter of various configurations is not able to rise upwards in the atmosphere and remains trapped near the surface level. In higher temperatures and differing pressures as well as moisture levels, these pollutants can disperse quicker and the concentration is generally not as critical an issue as it is in the winters.
When the cities we live in and travel around for work transform into gigantic gas chambers, you can only do the smart thing and be prepared. Anyone with a sensitive throat, anyone who is prone to respiratory discomfort with poor quality air or plainly someone who can’t not get their fix of a daily exercise routine outdoors, adding an anti-pollution mask to your wardrobe is the way to go. Buying one isn’t easy though, because a lot of options (usually sold at enticing price points) claim a lot, but the actual filtration capabilities are not up to the mark. If you wear one of these, and still can feel the pollution in the air you breathe, clearly these aren’t working. We pick the anti-pollution masks that are made of high-quality filters and materials, that will be better poised to keep pollutants, fumes, smoke and smog as well as volatile organic compounds out, as well as block all types of PM2.5, PM10 as well as airborne bacteria and viruses, from your throat and lungs.
Prana Air Motion Pollution mask
This is a very geeky mask that will protect you from the poor quality outdoor air. This has the N95 particulate matter filtering capability. There is a 6-layer filtration system in place which includes a pre-filter, a white filter, a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. You may not realise this at first, but the Prana Air Motion Pollution mask has a fan built-in, with three speeds—lowest being ideal for regular walking and the highest being more handy during running or jogging or sports activities. You need to charge the 600mAh battery inside the mask, and when you switch it on and wear it, this pretty much does the breathing for you. There is also a smartly designed micro ventilator to remove the carbon dioxide build-up inside the mask when you wear it. The proverbial cherry on the cake is that this comes in dark grey, white and pink colour options.
Around Rs2,500 onwards
This is a mask that clearly means business, something you’ll know as soon as you look at it. This has a hard shell on the outside, and is available in kids, medium and large sizes. The shield on the outside is shatter-proof. It is perhaps easy to imagine this mask as being heavy and perhaps being uncomfortable to wear when you see it first—but that is absolutely not the case and the idMASK2 is extremely comfortable to wear. Behind this robust shield sits an Electrostatic Cloud filter that can capture particles as small as 0.3 micron. You can also buy the replacement filters priced at Rs1,700 onwards for a 4 or 5 filter pack and even replace the outer shield—this will cost Rs1,200. These masks can be purchased in black, white and pink colour options.
Around Rs1,800 onwards
These masks, available in micro-fibre and organic cotton variants, offer multiple layers of filtration before you breathe in the air. Apart from the N99 filter, there is also the layer in which the coconut shell derived carbon, along with acrylic, is bonded to polyester. You will get this in small, medium and large sizes as well, depending on which fits best for your facial structure. This is designed to filter particles as small as 0.3-microns and are also available as single valve or dual valve options. Apart from the standard black colour option, you also get more dynamic designs and rather exciting colour combinations such as Lightning, Chakra, Java, Vector Havoc and Geometry.
Respro City Mask
Around Rs2,699 onwards
Respro, a UK based company, makes these anti-pollution masks to meet the European Standards for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). These are rated at FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. If we are to equate these rating with the globally understood "N" ratings, the FFP1 is equivalent to the N95 rating elsewhere in the world, and FFP3 matches the even higher spec N99 rating. These masks have removable and replaceable filters, though the life of these would range upwards of a 1 month, depending on how bad the ambient air you’re using these in is. These are available in small, medium, large and XL sizes, and it is important to buy one that fits your facial structure perfectly—else the polluted air will still stream in with your breath, and thereby reducing the utility. These are also available in multiple colour and pattern options—perhaps you can match these with your attire for the day?
Atlanta Healthcare Cambridge N99
These masks, developed by the UK based Cambridge Mask Co., are available in three variants—with no valve (best for regular activity outdoors), with one valve (for light exercises outdoors) and two valves (for intensive exercises or activity outdoors). For standard daily use, a no-valve option should suffice. The single- and dual-valve options help reduce moisture build-up inside the mask during intensive activity. These masks use military-grade filtration technology and protect you from dust, fuel-based contaminants, particulate matter, infectious pathogens, virus, bacteria, mold and spores as well as pollen. The activated carbon filter layer is developed by the UK’s Ministry of Defense and is designed to adsorb gaseous molecules. Available in multiple colours and patterns, and small, medium, large and XL sizes.
Around Rs395 for pack of 10
These are KN95 rated masks and are efficient if you are present in areas where dust is a big problem, along with airborne viruses and microorganisms. These masks are very light to wear as they are made of paper, and after some days of use, need to be disposed. There is a 3-layer filtration process, and this is ideal for someone who might need protection against the dust and fumes for non-strenuous activity outdoors—there are no valves like some of the higher end masks, which work better while running or jogging. Honeywell sells these in the icy blue and white colour options.