Broadly the respirators (masks) are categorized as disposable respirators, which generally labelled as NIOSH or N95/ N99 /N100 and reusable respirators, which are generally used by firefighters or people working with dangerous chemicals).
“N” in the label stands for not oil resistant; “R” stands for oil resistant and “P” stands for oil proof.
1 . N95 Mask
N95 air masks should be your minimum criterion while buying a mask to protect yourself from Delhi air pollution. Masks with N95 rating can filter up to 95 percent of the harmful PM2.5 particulate matter, which tends to stay longer in the air and is thus more likely to be inhaled.
When inhaled, PM2.5 can settle down in the nose, throat, lungs or even the circulatory system. A study says that PM2.5 can even lead to plaque deposit in arteries, which may cause hardening of arteries and subsequently indirectly cause a heart attack.
When buying a N95 air mask, look for models with air valves that can direct the exhaled air out via a dedicated passage, so there is no excess moisture and fogging near the nose-bridge and eyes.
2 . N99 Mask
N99 stands for the ability of the mask to filter out close to 99% of airborne particles that are larger than 0.3 microns.
Air masks with N99 and N100 ratings are capable of filtering out PM2.5 airborne particulate matter with up to 99 percent, and 99.97 percent efficiency. However, like the N95 air masks, these are also not resistant to oil and oil-based pollutants.Once again, there are a lot of different options available, including cheaper “generics” but these seem to be the best in terms of customer experiences, when looking at things like durability and ease of use.
3 . Particulate Respirators
Comparably priced higher than the N95 masks, some of the models of this mask come with an exhaust valve that provides improved comfort.
It has been found to be beneficial for people troubled with respiratory problems.
A range of models with different filters based on their filtration performance are available in this category.
4. N99 Carbon Layer/ Exhaust Layer Mask
-This mask follows the principle of microfiber filtration and showcases an efficiency close to 99%.
-Trendy in looks, this mask is installed with a valve and therefore provides an improved comfort.
-This mask is expensive but lasts for a period of 9 months.
5. P95 and R95 air masks
The difference between P- and N-rated masks is that the former can also filter out oil-based pollutants to an extent, which cannot be removed by the latter. However, this makes P-rated air masks a lot more expensive than their N-rated counterparts, and they still have to be replaced frequently. The American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that these should be used for 40 hours, or one month – whichever comes first. 3M P95 air masks are available in India.
There are also R95 type air masks, which also filter out the oil-based pollutants, but these are really meant only for industrial use. These are only supposed to have a usable life of eight hours, and are pretty expensive, so it’s not something you should consider for everyday usage.
HOW TO SELECT THE CORRECT MASK?
Your primary aim is to get maximum protection from the pollutants. This is exactly what a mask for pollution should deliver. Keeping this in mind, N-95 or N-99 masks are the best anti-pollution masks for you. This is true as these two offer protection from almost most types of pollutants.
- N-95 Masks: An N-95 respirator or mask for pollution offers protection from 95% pollutants and suspended particles. An ordinary filter usually does NOT protect you from noxious gasses. Whereas both the N-95 and N-99 masks make sure that you stay protected.
- N-99 Masks: An N-99 respirator offers protection from 99% pollutants, irritants and harmful gasses out there. They also protect you from heavy metal salts and 99% of the particulate matter (PM 2.5) offering you a high level of protection against air pollution.