Think that it is just Covid-19 that masks protect you from? The deadliest particle that a mask stops isn’t even a virus! Air pollution causes 3000 deaths a year in Hong Kong, while Covid-19 has caused 212 deaths in Hong Kong to date. Air pollution is more than 1400% more deadly in comparison!
What comprises air pollution.
Air pollution is split into different particle sizes measured in microns. Commonly, this is split into PM10 (Particle Matter) and PM2.5.
PM10, known as coarse particles, are small enough that they will pass through our nose and into our lungs. PM2.5, known as fine particles, are even smaller. They can pass straight through the deepest parts of our lungs and into our blood stream. Both particles cause significant health effects and are deadly even if exposed for a short period of time.
Other than particle size, there are three distinct air pollution elements that are a cause for concern. Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Ozone.
How air pollution affects us.
PM10 and PM2.5 particles are linked to premature deaths. Research has shown that increased particle concentration in the atmosphere is linked to increased hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. This is most susceptible to those who have pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, such as asthma. In addition, PM has been classified as a carcinogen by the IARC. Cancer Research UK links 3600 cancer cases a year to the affects of air pollution.
Nitrogen Dioxide causes coughing and sneezing as well as aggregates existing chronic respiratory diseases. Those with Asthma will have an increased response. Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide can lower a person’s lung functionality and increase your susceptibility to respiratory infections and diseases such as Covid-19.
Sulphur Dioxide irritates the eyes and nose, causing a sore throat and a narrowing of the airways. People who suffer from asthma or chronic respiratory diseases are more susceptible.
Ozone irritates the eyes and can cause coughing and sore throats even in healthy people. It is especially dangerous to those who suffer from asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases, aggravating their illnesses.
Who is most at risk
Even a short-term exposure to high levels of air pollution is deadly. An increase in premature deaths is recorded from the same day to up to two months later from high levels of air pollution. Those who are most at risk are the elderly, infants, smokers and those who are suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses.
How can I protect myself from air pollution?
The good news is that severe air pollution does not happen every day. Over the past year, the Hong Kong Observatory recorded 32 instances of high air pollution, though it is important to note that Covid-19 has caused reduced pollution emissions.
The first step to protection is being up to date with what the current AQI (Air Quality Index) is in your area. There are many apps available that can keep you informed. At Airizy, the free app we use is called “Air Quality: Real time AQI” (we have no affiliation, nor do we receive any compensation from this app). There, you can see hourly updates on the AQI, including tracking of PM2.5, PM10, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Ozone.
If the AQI goes above 50, consider shutting your windows when at home and limiting any strenuous outdoor activity. If the AQI goes above 100, it is time to put on a mask.
Any ASTM Level 3 mask is rated to block out at least 98% of PM2.5 particles, giving you adequate protection against air pollution. Of course, it is still important that they seal properly around your mouth and nose with no gaps for air to sneak past the filter.
The Airizy Protetra is an ASTM level 3 mask that has been specially designed to fit the contours of the face tightly, offering you adequate protection while still being light, airy and comfortable.
Check out our 12 different colours on our online store here.