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Masked and ready

Face masks will help protect from air pollution and allergies.

Face masks will help protect from air pollution and allergies.  

We may soon have to grab a protective face mask along with a hat or umbrella when we step outside our homes, owing to the increase in pollutants in the air and germs during certain seasons. One cannot easily forget the smog that covered most Indian cities during the recent Diwali festivities.

Air pollution is on the rise the world over, and particularly in India. Some of our cities have hazardous levels of pollutants in the air. Emissions from industries and automobiles, burning of garbage and agricultural waste, dust and pollen are the major contributors to air pollution. Surprisingly, not just the major metros, but some of the smaller towns in India are also among the most polluted in the country.

Air pollution causes not only respiratory ailments, but can also cause heart conditions and cancer. Children are among the most affected, and air pollution can even affect foetal growth. Polluted air can also affect the skin and the eyes.

Although the government and various authorities are adopting various measures to curb air pollution, an immediate and effective protection is the use of face masks. But very often, these are associated with discomfort and a ghastly appearance. In general, no one wants to be seen wearing a face mask. Thanks to a few innovative start-ups, well-designed and competent face masks are available in the market these days. These start-ups see a growing demand for fashionable and affordable face masks among concerned citizens, as they will protect the sensitive population from respiratory and skin allergies as well.

Polluted areas are best avoided for outdoor activity/exercise. Due to rapid breathing during an intense cardiovascular activity, one is more susceptible to the pollutants in the air. Commuters on two-wheelers and workers in textile industries and foundries, who are constantly exposed to smoke and/or dust, must make an effort to protect themselves. A functional yet comfortable face mask is the right gear to rely on for this purpose.

A Swedish student at IIM-Ahmedabad, who was struggling with asthmatic symptoms, found it difficult to buy a protective face mask that he could wear to college. On returning to his homeland, he conceived the idea for a start-up to manufacture fashionable face masks and Airinum was launched recently on Kickstarter.

After rigorous testing and iterations, the team has created a modern breathing mask, keeping in mind issues like reliable protection, optimal comfort and Scandinavian design. In order to make it more affordable, replaceable filters have been used.

The outer shell is machine-washable, and this in turn extends the mask’s life. Equipped with high-tech fibre technology, the Airinum masks filter more than 99 per cent of the micro particles. Its air valves allow carbon dioxide, moisture and heat to escape, thereby allowing the user to be comfortable.

In an effort to combine aesthetics with functionality, Vogmask had well-known Indian designer Manish Arora design a new line of face masks for the Paris Fashion Week earlier this year.  

Pulmonologist Dr. Nandagopal, of GKNM Hospital, says, “A protective face mask with N95 or N99 rating will give considerable protection to those suffering from symptoms caused by allergens in the outdoor atmosphere. These masks are effective during outbreaks of airborne diseases in the community too.”

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 4:11:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/stylish-affordable-masks-to-fight-pollution/article7954977.ece

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