Air pollution has become a reality that we all have to live with. We just can’t wish it away nor can we avoid it. After all how long can you remain locked in your home or office? Air pollution is not restricted to outdoor air pollution, indoor air is just as bad as outdoor AQI.
Indeed it is next to impossible to imagine a life that is completely restricted to indoors, even if we purify our indoor environment. The situation becomes worse in winters when heavy air hangs low and enters our lungs, which is why we must protect ourselves.
The only option we have is to wear protection. As the awareness about the ill effects of pollution is rising (did I tell you that high PM 2.5 levels can cause serious chronic ailments like heart and lung problems, kidney and liver malfunction and even cancer in the long run) many companies are coming into the market selling pollution masks.
No doubt these pollution masks work especially if you have to remain in heavily polluted areas or commute through congested roads but not all of them give an equal amount of protection. Some work well while others don’t. So which one should you go for is a million dollar question. The two popular certifications for respirator masks are N99 and N95 so which one should you buy?
The number refers to the percentage of polluted PM2.5 that the mask can filter out. The N95 mask filters out 95% of dust and particulates. The N99 masks will filter out slightly more (4% to be precise) polluted particles but N95 mask offers 50% lesser breathing resistance than N99. It means you can wear the N95 mask for longer duration without feeling suffocated.
If you’re in an area with poor air quality levels, wearing an N95 face mask is the best way to protect your lungs and overall health. Built to filter out dangerous particles, the N95 is a better way to breathe clean air and stay healthy. They are better than the N99 pollution masks as N99 makes breathing a bit difficult. So people over 60, pregnant ladies and children are advised to wear the N95 pollution masks. Many health providers recommend highly efficient N95 filter class especially for those mask wearers who are young, active or have impaired lung function.
Here is a word of caution, if you have a respiratory or cardiac condition, N99 pollution masks can make it more difficult to breathe. If you have any of the following conditions then N95 pollution mask would be a better choice:
- Breathing problems
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cardio-pulmonary problems