Surviving air pollution | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 06, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 06, 2018

perspective

Surviving air pollution

Breathing seems to be a chore in Dhaka, and no wonder either, since the air pollution index for the massive and growing city that serves as our capital has been measured at an alarming level of 298; cementing its place as among the most polluted cities in the world. This veritably puts every inhabitant of the city at a constant risk of whatever air-borne viruses or diseases that fester here, in addition to the micro-dust particles.

A way to prevent serious health afflictions from this is by wearing pollution masks, and not the flimsy kind available at roadside shops for a pittance each, because these are not reliable for protection. On top of that, cotton is a breathable material. These masks protect people from dust just as much as surgical masks, thus it's too light in comparison to the weather we have to endure.

So, it's time to let go of the cute dust masks and move on to more heavy-duty ones. There are FFP (Filtering Face Piece) masks which follow European standards. This is not the prettiest thing to put on your face, but the pollution we have to live through can easily break through the cute one-layer masks in the market.

FFP masks are categorised as respiratory protective devices and come with an exhalation valve and filter cartridge. These are important to consider as they create layers between the nose and the thick material and allows intensive filtering for safe breathing. You cannot find these in supermarkets, but these are easily available online. Daraz.com labels it as 'air pollution respiratory face mask.'

We do not know what's in the air, so using respiratory masks is ideal. It is designed to filter out micro-dust particles and possible denser particles in the air that is not oxygen. It can potentially filter out oxygen compounds that are undetectable, but easily mistaken for breathable air.

Web MD will tell you that visible air pollution is something to be scared of. It can result in the entire population affected by it, developing cancer and lung impairments. Respiratory masks are specifically designed to tackle such problems. These masks are built to prevent coughing, wheezing and congestion. Even a few minutes of exposure can put you in risk of these symptoms.

If you feel that without a mask, the effects are invalid for you, you are wrong. The contaminated particles in your body stay dormant till your immune system weakens. And subsequently, over time, air pollution may directly affect your immune system.

With protective masks, one size does not fit all. It is very important for people to know that masks should be purchased specific to the shape and size of your face. Try to read the details about the mask before buying it. And if you get the chance to buy it physically, fit test should be a main part of the purchasing process.

The mask should have a snug fit around your mouth and nose. More than that, breathing in the mask should make you feel hot. Otherwise, it is a sign of inadequate protection.

Also, people with beards should know that facial hair reduces suction capacity of the masks and may cause it to not fit well.

To ensure that the mask is clean, give it a wipe when you take it off and before you wear it, and only remove it indoors. It is a mandate to keep wearing it at all times in hazardous areas, and should not be taken off even to have conversations.

 

Photo: Collected

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