Air pollution is one of the major environmental issues nowadays. It is growing in an exceptional manner and impacts our life in the worst way. No matter which aspect you say in our life, air pollution does have a bad impact on it. Of course, health is the most sensitive aspect that gets affected by air pollution.
The pollutants get into our body by breathing and can cause various health problems in different parts of our body that may be deadening. So we need to find ways to control air pollution or protect our health from it.
Masks are the only way to keep those pollutants away from us. For this reason, choosing the right mask with the ability to filter pollutants to the best possible percentage is essential.
In this article, we will talk go through everything you need to know about PM 2.5 filter masks, choosing a mask with proper filtering capacity, what they are made for, and the alternatives.
What Are PM 2.5 Face Masks?
PM 2.5 Face masks act as a filter and decide what should enter our respiratory system and whatnot. As the name suggests, this particular mask avoids particular matters (PM) larger than 2.5 micrometers. These particulate matters are called fine PMs.
These are mostly hazardous to our health system, hence using this PM 2.5 face mask is safer to get protected from these pollutants.
Now you may ask what a particulate matter is. Particulate matter is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in the air; most of those particles are bad for our health. This complex mixture may include both organic and inorganic particles such as pollen, dust, smoke, liquid droplets, and many more.
Usually, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 is not hazardous to our body system because the smaller ones are mostly air particles. But the larger particles are mostly pollutants in the air, which may get into our respiratory system through breathing and can cause various health hazards. So using PM 2.5 face mask is important to avoid those pollutants, particularly through the filter.
Needless to say, health is the most important thing we have and we should do everything we can to protect it, and PM 2.5 masks are a great solution.
What Do PM 2.5 Masks Protect You From?
PM 2.5 Face masks are very efficient and they are able to protect you from overall exposure to air pollution. For this reason, you can stay safe outside of your house even if you live in highly polluted cities.
As mentioned previously, PM 2.5 face masks protect us from particulate matter larger than 2.5. Apart from that, other pollutants in the air won’t be able to get into our respiratory system with PM 2.5 masks.
When you wear properly-fitted PM 2.5 face masks made up of high-quality materials, it works the best. It avoids all kinds of pollutants present in the air to the best extent, and, therefore, we remain safe. To sum up, it is important to be aware of the air pollutants and use PM 2.5 face mask to avoid any exposure to them as much as possible.
What Does PM 2.5 Mean On A Filter?
When it comes to PM 2.5 filters, it means that the filter can only avoid particulate matters of size 2.5 micrometer or greater than it. It can’t filter out smaller particles than 2.5 micrometers. The filters are made up in such a way that it can only stop the entering of particles larger than that.
As particulate matter greater than 2.5 micrometers is most hazardous for our health, avoiding these will help us stay safe from air pollution.
The Dangers of PM 2.5
Reading till now, you may ask why and how PM 2.5 is dangerous for our health. Then here are your answers. Exposure to these fine particulate matters has a terrible impact on our health system.
- It can cause shortness of breath, irritation in the eye, nose, and throat. Shortness of breath means to face difficulties while breathing. If you have symptoms such as having difficulty breathing, then it is considered shortness of breath.
- According to research by the NIH in China, PM 2.5 particles can lead to diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, inflammatory lung issues, and general lung injuries.
- Excessive coughing, sneezing, and wheezing are also the results of PM 2.5 particles.
- When the amount of these particulate matter increases in our respiratory system, it can cause the lungs’ diminished function and various lung diseases that can also result in death.
- Not only lungs, but these particles also can affect the heart. Another research by the National Institutes of Health revealed that PM 2.5 particles may cause cardiovascular disease and, ultimately, heart attack.
- These fine particles, i.e., PM 2.5, can get deep into the lungs and even get into the bloodstream, resulting in extremely dangerous issues for our body.
Coarse particles from 2.5 to 10µm are not much problematic for our health, although they can irritate eyes, nose, and throat and sometimes cause breathing problems. But, as you can see above, these PM 2.5 fine particles are hazardous for us, and, therefore, using a PM 2.5 filter mask is important to stay protected.
Can You Wash PM 2.5 Masks And The Filters?
Handling and taking care of the PM 2.5 mask filters is as important as wearing them. The simple answer to this is yes, you can wash PM 2.5 mask filters periodically but with utmost care.
Of course, we recommend separating the filters from the mask before washing them. After that, you may use a UV box for surface sanitization. Specifically, cleaning the filters that may gather some unwanted pollutants inside is crucial.
Additionally, using ultraviolet will also sanitize the surface of the filter which will, of course, make it ready for the next use.
Furthermore, washing the mask is also important, if you don’t want to buy new ones on a regular basis. Even if you use an ultraviolet box as recommended above, washing the mask often is sometimes needed. In fact, the recommended usage for a PM 2.5 mask is 1 to 3 days, so a maximum of 40 hours.
Bear in mind that drying is also as important as washing. Avoiding proper drying may impact the PM 2.5 mask filters. Drying the PM 2.5 mask filters in the air is highly recommended. But if you simply can’t, you’ll also be able to dry it in a dryer keeping all the settings as cool as possible. Lastly, drying under the sunlight is not recommended.
How Long Do PM 2.5 Filters Last?
Despite so much research done, there is no specific duration about the lasting of PM 2.5 mask filters.
The hours that a mask filter can last depends on how dust and polluted the environment is. The film up of the active carbon layer with dust particles and other pollutants indicates changing the mask, and that is the limit of using the mask filters. The recommended time is 40 hours when used ordinarily and 16 to 24 hours when used in a heavily polluted environment.
In fact, if you are working or living in a dusty environment due to any reason, it is recommended to change the PM 2.5 mask filters more often.
Lastly, it is important to note that these recommendations are made by studying high-quality PM 2.5 mask filters. For this reason and for your health to be protected, we recommend using high-quality filter masks.
PM 2.5 VS KN95 Face Masks
As the name suggests, PM 2.5 Masks are those which can filter particles larger than 2.5micrometers. On the other hand, KN95 masks are Chinese standard masks that are almost equivalent to N95 ones. So looking at both face masks, KN95 is also one type of PM 2.5 mask filter.
Filtering Of Particles – Size
While KN95 filters almost 95% of particles greater than 0.3 micrometers, PM 2.5 mask filters only avoid particles greater than 2.5 micrometers. So KN95 filters out smaller particles than other PM 2.5 mask filters do.
KN95 masks can filter various particles like dust, smoke, pollutants, and other fine particles. But PM 2.5 masks can only filter the fine tiny particles present in the air.
Protection – PM 2.5 And KN95 Masks
As you understood by now, PM 2.5 particles can cause different health hazards which may even lead to death. The PM 2.5 mask filter can keep us safe from those short term and long term health problems. However, KN95 masks take things to the next level.
Although these two masks are designed to protect us from hazardous particles in the air, the KN95 ones do this to an extra extent.
In short, if we compare these both face masks, clearly KN95 wins. Because PM2.5 can only protect you from certain kinds of infections, pollutants, dust, etc. but KN95 protects you from 95% of airborne unwanted particles.
Best Alternatives to PM 2.5 Filter Masks
Although PM 2.5 mask filters are one of the best to avoid air pollution exposure, there are various and valid alternatives to them.
N95 Face Masks – The Best But Most Expensive Face Masks
The N95 mask filters are made up of nonwoven polypropylene. It has been claimed that these N95 masks can avoid 95% airborne particles entering our respiratory system. According to the National Institutes of Health, the N95 face masks are a valid alternative, however, they offer low protection against 10-80nm particles.
N99 Face Masks – The Best Alternative In Terms Of Particle Size Protection
The N99 masks are also made up of nonwoven polypropylene like N95. It avoids almost 99% of the airborne particles, but it is not resistant to oil. Although it is the best option to avoid pollutants, this N99 mask filter’s negative side is that it causes difficulty in breathing. So it is almost next to impossible to use this filter in your mask regularly.
The National Institutes of Health found out that N99 face masks can filter 99% of 0.3 nm particles which is, of course, something to consider.
DIY Filter Masks – The Cheapest Masks You Can Get
Although it is recommended to use filters made particularly for your mask, you can still make your filter from materials like HEPA Bags if you don’t have that option.
Now that you know everything about PM 2.5 filter masks, You are now convinced that you should use masks if you live either in highly polluted cities or even in areas with low pollution. Air pollution is becoming the largest environmental and health concern all over the globe.
Of course, it is not only about respiratory problems, but if these airborne particles enter our body. And of course, they can cause various health hazards, starting from heart attack to diminished functioning of the lungs.
Apart from comfortability, we emphasize the importance of the quality of the masks you wear. As it is the biggest health concern, so it is wise to wear masks made out of high-quality materials. Wearing masks with filters is certainly the solution for a shorter period.