Posted - 17 October 16

N99 Masks: The best protection against Indian air pollution!

Atlanta Healthcare

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N99 Masks: The best protection against Indian air pollution!

Air Pollution, the fourth largest killer in the world is the biggest concern of the 21st century. It has occupied both indoor and outdoor spaces and hence no one is safe from the health risks that come along the way. However, hope is not all lost and while we human beings try to do everything it takes to reduce pollution, we have to also focus on protecting ourselves with N99 certified pollution masks and air purifiers.

Which is the most dangerous air pollutant?

Air Pollution In India
“A clipping from The Hindu in 2014 announcing the extremity of air pollution in Delhi”

There are various types of air pollutants, ranging from smoke to lethal gases but the most dangerous of them all is particulate matter. Particulate matter, also known as particulate pollution is mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. Among the particle mixture, the pollutants that you can see with your naked eyes are dust, dirt, smoke and soot. These particles are large enough or dark enough to be seen by the common eye. There are others in the mixture which can only be detected using an electron microscope.

Particulate matter comes in various sizes and all of them are equally harmful but the smaller ones can be life threatening. PM10 is a type of particulate matter that is inhalable and is of the size 10 micrometre. PM2.5 and PM0.3 are particulate matters that are smaller than PM10 and can infiltrate deep into your lungs as they are easily inhalable.

How bad is particulate matter in India?

Components of particulate matter (PM) include finely divided solids or liquids such as dust, fly ash, soot, smoke etc.
“Components of particulate matter (PM) include finely divided solids or liquids such as dust, fly ash, soot, smoke etc.”

According to a study published by the WHO, air pollution killed 6,00,000 Indians in the year 2012. This number accounts for one fifth of the 3 million people who died due to exposure to fine particulate matter. The impact of particulate matter was highlighted by the WHO through a wide range of illness that causes premature deaths. These range of illness include cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

In February 2016, the average particulate matter in the air of India was higher than that of China, as reported by NASA satellite and analysed by Greenpeace. The National Air Quality Index report published by Greenpeace revealed that out of 17 Indian cities with National Air Quality Index (NAQI) stations, as many as 15 stations showed level of air pollution that far exceeded the prescribed safety level. The report also revealed that out of 32 NAQI stations across India, 23 of them are showing air pollution levels that are 70% more than the safety levels.

The particulate matter pollution in India stood higher than that of China by 2015, after increasing at an average rate of 2% over the last decade.

What are N95 and N99 standard masks?

Normal anti-pollution masks are no more effective under Indian air pollution conditions.
“Normal anti-pollution masks are no more effective under Indian air pollution conditions.”

The ever increasing rate of air pollution needs to be brought down with national policies and nationwide clean air movements. However, to achieve the state of clean air could take several years for India based on the current scenario. The only method to protect oneself from the health hazards of air pollution is to wear mask when travelling outdoors. Keeping in mind the extreme level of pollution in India, common masks would not be the best fit for protection against particulate matter and other harmful air pollutants.

Only standardized N95 and N99 masks are suitable for Indian conditions.

The N-series respirators are commonly not resistant to oil and hence they provide protection against the solid and liquid aerosols that do not contain oil. It is also important to note that the N-series respirators have a non-specific service life, and can be used as long as the mask is not damaged or there is no resistance in breathing.

A N95 mask a.k.a surgical N95 respirator is a NIOSH-approved respirator that has also been given a green signal form the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a surgical mask. A N95 mask gives 95% protection from the air pollutants that are found outdoors.

Similarly, a N99 mask a.k.a surgical N99 respirator is a NIOSH-approved respirator that provides 99% protection from air pollutants found outdoors.

Which among N95 and N99 mask is best suitable for Indian conditions?

cmc_bike_003
“N99 masks provide protection from 99% of airborne particles.”

Let’s analyse the air pollutants that you find in the Indian air. The major primary pollutants are Sulfur oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Carbon monoxide (CO), Particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5 and PM0.3), Persistent free radicals (airborne fine particles), Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Ammonia (NH3), radioactive pollutants and odours.

These pollutants cause serious amount of damage to our body and lead to various illness. The most common illnesses being stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, ischemic heart disease, bronchus, trachea and lung cancer.

Keeping all the above in mind, it is always better to choose the best product when it comes to health and safety.

N99 certified masks provide maximum security and it is advisable for Indians to only prefer masks that are N99 certified.

What are the features to look for while buying a N99 Mask/Respirator?

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While there are a lot of companies that sell N99 masks, you have to really be careful while buying one in order to ensure that you are buying the right product.

The key points that you need to look for in the mask are:-

  1. Size Range: – You need to ensure that the company provides you size variants to select from and a size chart based on Indian standard. You should always purchase a mask that fits you perfectly. If it is small then there are possibilities of either moisture build up or uneasy feeling which could have you dread wearing one. If it is larger then there would be air leakage and it would do you no good.
  2. Valve Selection: – You need to ensure that the company you buy your mask from provides you valve options. The valve options help to breathe easy without any build of moisture. If you engage in rigorous routines then you should always go for a 2-valve option, else 1-valve option would be the best choice.
  3. Material of the mask: – The material of the mask is equally important to consider while buying a mask. The material should be comfortable to wear as your regular usage would span at least for an hour.
  4. Protection against PM0.3, PM2.5 and PM10: – Every N99 mask should provide you protection from the smallest sized particulate matter. It is very important that you ensure that your mask gives you protection from particulate matter up to PM0.3.
  5. Not just protection from dust! : – You should also look for N99 masks that provide protection beyond dust. A good N99 mask would offer protection against VOCs, dust, bacteria and virus.

 

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