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Old 08-19-13, 11:53 AM   #1
Orangesky
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Pollution masks - who wears them?

Hi guys,

So i've been commuting for a while now but have just started a new role very much more in the city than my other role was and I'm really noticing a difference in my breathing and the pollution.

Not only that but it's really horrible being stuck behind buses etc and feeling like you're breathing in all those fumes.

So, does anyone use these masks? I hear this one is quite good and the best out of the three Respro's? http://www.evanscycles.com/products/...-mask-ec009154 I hear they only come in M and L though and I'm female and quite small. Don't really want it to cover my entire face lol.

Would really appreciate your input and advice.

Thanks guys
Jodie
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Old 08-19-13, 11:56 AM   #2
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He does:

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Old 08-19-13, 11:56 AM   #3
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lol!
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Old 08-19-13, 12:13 PM   #4
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And then the serious answers please
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Old 08-19-13, 12:25 PM   #5
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I just try not to breath too deeply when around cars and avoid stopping directly behind tailpipes. I have thought about some sort of mask, but I never looked into it.
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Old 08-19-13, 01:07 PM   #6
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Well London is one of those places where diesel particulates in the air are a Problem.

not much of an Issue right on the Pacific, North West Coast, Here..
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Old 08-19-13, 02:40 PM   #7
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And then the serious answers please
That depends on what you are trying to filter out. If you want to filter particulates, then a mask will do that. If, on the other hand, you are trying to filter out "exhaust emission" as the Respro website says, save your money. "Exhaust emissions" are a pretty broad class of materials. They can be particulates like diesel exhaust but they are also oxides of nitrogen (aka NOX), oxides of carbon (but you only have to worry about carbon monoxide), unburned hydrocarbons, and maybe a few amines or ammonia (from detergents used to clean the engine). Of these, the only thing that a respirator is useful for is particulates and, maybe, a bit of the unburned hydrocarbons if you have a carbon filter on the respirator. But if you were to have the proper filters, you probably could breath through them enough to do aerobic exercise.

The NOX and carbon monoxide are what are called permanent gases and absorbent filters don't have any effect on them. You can find materials that will react with the carbon monoxide but, again, you can't breath through them enough for aerobic exercise. Miners, particular coal miners, carry rescue breathers that convert the CO but those are meant to be used while you wait for rescue.

There is also a time limit as to how long any kind of respirator will work. Even particulate ones are going to clog and/or allow penetration of the particulate. Without knowing the material of the filter, the breathing rate, the particulate load, humidity, etc., it would be impossible to tell how long a mask can last. Generally speaking, when I use a dust mask, it is used for a few hours. Using one for a couple of hours is okay. Using one for 8 hours isn't. Using one for weeks on end would be silly.
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Old 08-19-13, 02:49 PM   #8
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I usually cycle with a Scottpack SCBA https://www.scottsafety.com/en/us/Pa...ory+Protection It's the only way to be truly safe.
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Old 08-19-13, 04:05 PM   #9
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He does:

Well, seriously that is me! 10 Wheels, thanks for posting my mug shot Actually I don't mind because that silly looking thing has really helped me depending on the conditions. We had a lot of sand from the Sahara Desert for several days that week due to the trade winds.

I don't cycle in a city but in very hot/humid and windy conditions that can be very dusty and in an area with a lot of farm land. I'm alergic to pretty much everything to include dust and any type of grass. Also my face has a tendancy to burn easily from the wind even with sunscreen.

So that "mask" does help depending on the conditions. It's also good when the crop dusters are spraying the fields. It also helps keeping my neck from getting too burned/hot. I don't wear it all the time but usually carry it with me.

Today for example the temps are 100-102F with winds in the 20-30 MPH range. I'll be cycling this afternoon after work.

Orangesky, riding in a city with all the exhaust would probably be very difficult for me....good luck.
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Old 08-19-13, 05:22 PM   #10
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It's hard to provide guidance on this. The nastiest stuff you breathe in trafffic is probably very fine particulates from diesel exhaust. These particles are generally much smaller than 1 micron (1 micrometer) in size. Some of the particles will be captured by filters meeting the HEPA specification, which is quite effective at least down to 0.3 micron (that's a specification used in the US - don't know if it is used in the UK). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEPA) However, some diesel particles (as well as fine particulate emitted by gasoline engines) will be too small for any filter to capture. Anyway, any useful filter used in this context must be able to filter well below 1 micron. The ones you linked to do say they work for "sub-micron" particles. Maybe you could search and see if this is better quantified anywhere for that particular product.

As noted above, some of the other contaminants you'll encounter in traffic aren't easily filtered, including carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur oxides (maybe not a big concern if low-sulfur fuel is mandated in the UK) and ground-level ozone. Activated carbon filters will work for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are also present in city air, but the filters may get saturated pretty quickly and become ineffective.

In the US, very effective respirators with filters for particulates and VOCs are readily available for workplace or hobby applications. However, those respirators wouldn't be suitable for cycling because airflow may not be enough for vigorous aerobic activities. It would be technically possible to produce such a thing, but I don't know if anything is available on the market.

If I were concerned enough about this to want to wear some protection, I would consider something like this http://www.discountsafetygear.com/3m...FUSi4AodDkIAJA Again, the important thing is to pay careful attention to the specifications. This meets the HEPA specification, but there are similar looking products that offer only crappy filtration.
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Old 08-19-13, 06:39 PM   #11
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As others have noted, a dust-type respirator is only going to be useful for relatively large particulates. I've considered using one on my commute when certain bugs are out in full force. I would never consider kidding myself into believing that it's prtecting me from anything more than that.

The only type of respirator that is capable of removing sub-micron particulates and VOCs that I would consider suitable for use while riding a bicycle would be a PAPR (powered air purifying respirator). It take standard cartridges (use the ones that remove what you're concerned about, e.g., HEPA, VOC, etc.), and has a small battery-powered fan to draw the ambient air through the filter and into the respirator. It even provides a somewhat cooling effect due to the air movement across your face. Standard respirators, as others have said, would be just too restrictive to your breathing to allow cycling at anything approaching an aerobic level. Of course, there's always SCBA . . .
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Old 08-19-13, 06:51 PM   #12
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You would have to have a N95 rated respirator or a painter (automotive) type with the replaceable cartridges to be really effective would you???
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Old 08-19-13, 07:53 PM   #13
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You would have to have a N95 rated respirator or a painter (automotive) type with the replaceable cartridges to be really effective would you???
I think in this instance, one wouldn't absolutely *need* a respirator with replaceable cartridges. One of the main advantages to the replaceable-cartridge ones are that they have a mask made out of silicone or something similar that can be fit-tested to insure that it makes a good seal on the wearer's face. Then high-quality replaceable cartridges are attached to the mask. This system ensures that little or no contaminated air can detour around the mask and get breathed in. This is very important in hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, it can get miserable with this system in sweaty conditions, and I personally would feel really self-conscious wearing one on a bike. Then when you take it off, it leaves deep lines on your face that take a while to disappear (unless you wear it loose, which defeats the whole purpose).

On the other hand, a disposable mask-type respirator doesn't seal tightly to the face, so it lets some contaminated air bypass the filter. However, the majority of the air the wearer breathes will still be filtered, there should be less air constriction than the other type, and it will be way more comfortable. The key is to make sure you're getting a good one, preferably the N100 specification in the US. It's also really important to get one with an exhalation valve. I would still feel kind of self-conscious wearing one, and it still might leave lines on the face (but likely not as bad).

The one the OP asked about looks more like a cartridge-type respirator, but there should be more ventilation. I just haven't used anything quite like it, so I can't really give an opinion....
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Old 08-20-13, 01:01 AM   #14
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Last winter I was using a 3M wide spectrum volatile organics and particulate filter. Silicone Mask (in 3 sizes) and replaceable cartridges. I have to think a filter of that quality is going to be of more benefit than not for a cyclist going out in urban traffic everyday. I did and do feel very self-conscious wearing it. Partly because the cartridge covers are hot pink. BikeLogic(?) was running a similar system in stealth black. More $$$. Twin cartridge respirators will flow enough air for aerobic activity. During the summer I ride a rural scenic route that adds 3 miles but avoids the highway. I don't really need the mask in summer. I think more cyclists should be thinking about this stuff and if there is the demand then someone will come out with filters that are more comfortable and effective against the kinds of pollutants cyclists face. Whenever this topic comes up the majority of responses are negative with the majority of the respondents never having worn as much as a damp bandanna against particulates. Kind of like the responses when trikes or velomobiles are mentioned. Are cyclists really this closed minded as a group? Interesting how a growing number of cyclists think nothing of dropping $300 (X2!) on helmet camera(s!) to document road rage incidents. Mention a $30 respirator and they don't have to think about it. No, thank you. Hmmm.

H
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Old 08-20-13, 06:48 AM   #15
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I want a cartridge particulate filter which attaches to a "bite" fitting (you know, like a diving snorkel or regulator). 2 reasons - one is that I am a beardy weirdy (Walter White goatee) and face masks don't seal. Two is that I want to hang it around my neck on a lanyard - only stuffing it in my mouth when I find myself behind a diesel belching bus or London taxi. It probably should use a soft rubber disk exhaust valve so that the cartridge stays dry. Your economics should be on the printer cartridge model - pretty well give the carrier away - charge a load for the cartridges.

There - you may have my idea - it is perfect for Citibike, Velib, BarclaysBike users - there are a bazillion of us. When you've made your first million from it you may care to remember me. Thank you.

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Old 08-20-13, 07:51 AM   #16
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Why bother with filters that will increase your work of breathing-and won't remove carbon monoxide or NOx or SO2 or any other noxious gases-and will let tiny particles-the worst-by.

Yeah-get portable O2-make your own breathing device-one way exhaust valve maybe with a reservoir bag-perhaps let in 20-30% ambient air
A filter just won't work well enough to bother with.
You could get a rebreathing device-like your SBS SAS commando types use-but very expensive
You could even use a SCUBA device-but WEIGHT BULK
Just make your own using the sort of equipment COPD patient use-portable O2 tank-mouth piece-one way exhaust valve-maybe a reservoir bag so you can rebreath some of it-
perhaps adapt a snorkel mouth piece
Careful with 100% O2 it is toxic if breathed for long periods-
CO2 buildup-wouldn't be harmful-you would notice increased breathing rate and would switch to ambient air
but portable O2 setup letting in "some" ambient air but with a reservoir bag and exhaust valve-
If you could get compressed air instead of O2-better but heavier.

You breath 5 liters/min at rest-meaning about 30 grams of air per 4 minutes or so - 22.4 liters= one mole-mole of air about 30 grams(N2=28 O2=32)
Figure maybe 3 times that much while riding
so 100 grams per 4 minutes-
1000 grams=40 minutes 200 liters or so of air-100x is 2 liters at 1500 psi
Pretty sure it takes a sturdy tank for 1500 psi
Yeah-cobble together a COPD type set up-but let in very little ambient air
Maybe a SCUBA set up-for kids-small tank-would work best??
Granted lotta weight-but if you are doing it for exercise-why not.
Not practical for most folks-but the filters don't work(CO O3 NOx SO2 and tiny particles) so pointless to use them.
SCUBA would work, but......
Not really seriously suggesting this...but it would work

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Old 08-20-13, 08:06 AM   #17
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Seriously, the sky is falling. Get a grip people, you can't protect yourself from everything. Unless you are cycling in Fukushima, you are going to be OK.
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Old 08-20-13, 08:26 AM   #18
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Last winter I was using a 3M wide spectrum volatile organics and particulate filter. Silicone Mask (in 3 sizes) and replaceable cartridges. I have to think a filter of that quality is going to be of more benefit than not for a cyclist going out in urban traffic everyday. I did and do feel very self-conscious wearing it. Partly because the cartridge covers are hot pink. BikeLogic(?) was running a similar system in stealth black. More $$$. Twin cartridge respirators will flow enough air for aerobic activity. During the summer I ride a rural scenic route that adds 3 miles but avoids the highway. I don't really need the mask in summer. I think more cyclists should be thinking about this stuff and if there is the demand then someone will come out with filters that are more comfortable and effective against the kinds of pollutants cyclists face. Whenever this topic comes up the majority of responses are negative with the majority of the respondents never having worn as much as a damp bandanna against particulates. Kind of like the responses when trikes or velomobiles are mentioned. Are cyclists really this closed minded as a group? Interesting how a growing number of cyclists think nothing of dropping $300 (X2!) on helmet camera(s!) to document road rage incidents. Mention a $30 respirator and they don't have to think about it. No, thank you. Hmmm.

H
I think one problem is that the topic is often brought up by people trying to drum up business for respirators. And the other major problem is that folks in many places just don't perceive filters to have much if any benefit.

From a philosophical point of view I also don't like the idea that the proper response to air pollution is filtration. I'd rather have the focus on cleaning it up or at least maintaining at safe levels. So from that perspective I'd really prefer that the idea of wearing a respirator just to be outdoors never gain any public acceptance.

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Old 08-20-13, 10:20 AM   #19
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I think one problem is that the topic is often brought up by people trying to drum up business for respirators. And the other major problem is that folks in many places just don't perceive filters to have much if any benefit.

From a philosophical point of view I also don't like the idea that the proper response to air pollution is filtration. I'd rather have the focus on cleaning it up or at least maintaining at safe levels. So from that perspective I'd really prefer that the idea of wearing a respirator just to be outdoors never gain any public acceptance.
In the US, both the US EPA and some states forecast local air quality and provide real-time data from ambient air monitors (most of the monitoring data is from urban centers, that's also where the worst air quality tends to be). See here for starters: http://www.epa.gov/airdata/ Personally, I'm aware of when air quality is likely to be poor, but I ride anyway. There are a few days here where the ambient air does not meet regulatory standards. I do usually take it easy on those days to reduce the amount of contaminated air filtered through my lungs.

Where air quality is bad on a lot of days, or for people who have asthma or heart disease, using air filtration or not exercising on certain days may be very wise. (For example, there have been many studies showing that hospital admissions and deaths from heart attacks increase when the concentration of fine particulates is elevated).

Another point to consider is that California pretty much leads the world in air quality regulation, and some states in the northeast US are just a half step behind. The "low-hanging fruit" of emissions reductions were taken years ago. These states have continued to chase emission reductions from both mobile and stationary sources, but there are technical and cost limitations that come into play, making further reductions more difficult. I guess my point is that, depending on where you live, things may not get a lot better. (The northeast US also suffers from being downwind of states that don't take air quality as seriously). There are other places that are way behind the curve, and significant improvements are possible if there is political will to do so. I don't know what the situation is in Minnesota or London (where the OP is located).
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Old 08-20-13, 11:34 AM   #20
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In the US, both the US EPA and some states forecast local air quality and provide real-time data from ambient air monitors (most of the monitoring data is from urban centers, that's also where the worst air quality tends to be). See here for starters: http://www.epa.gov/airdata/ Personally, I'm aware of when air quality is likely to be poor, but I ride anyway. There are a few days here where the ambient air does not meet regulatory standards. I do usually take it easy on those days to reduce the amount of contaminated air filtered through my lungs.

Where air quality is bad on a lot of days, or for people who have asthma or heart disease, using air filtration or not exercising on certain days may be very wise. (For example, there have been many studies showing that hospital admissions and deaths from heart attacks increase when the concentration of fine particulates is elevated).

Another point to consider is that California pretty much leads the world in air quality regulation, and some states in the northeast US are just a half step behind. The "low-hanging fruit" of emissions reductions were taken years ago. These states have continued to chase emission reductions from both mobile and stationary sources, but there are technical and cost limitations that come into play, making further reductions more difficult. I guess my point is that, depending on where you live, things may not get a lot better. (The northeast US also suffers from being downwind of states that don't take air quality as seriously). There are other places that are way behind the curve, and significant improvements are possible if there is political will to do so. I don't know what the situation is in Minnesota or London (where the OP is located).
Individual circumstances vary and people need to do what they need to do. However, as a rule we should consider the idea of wearing filtration masks to live with air pollution abhorrent.

Back in the later 60's a Time article about a fire on the Cuyahoga River was one of the events the started the environmental movement. The river literally caught fire it was so polluted. It wasn't the first fire on that river and I'm sure most of the people in power at the time (whether politically or commercially) viewed the pollution as the price of progress. They just lived with it. However after being embarrassed nationally somehow the money and the political will to do something about it was found. My guess is that some people may have suffered as a result in some way. Maybe jobs were lost. But how many people in the area are really sorry it was cleaned up and that stricter regulations are in place?

I don't accept that we're doing all that can reasonably be done. If the air quality in the Northeast is suffering mightily because of air pollution produced in other states, the federal government should step in.

Personally I don't believe every crackpot idea should be funded and I do think a lot of money gets wasted on well meaning but ineffective solutions. But I do believe there is money out there.

Probably most of us remember the Y2K scare. $300 billion was spent world wide to remediate the problem. The money was found. The economy didn't collapse.

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Old 08-20-13, 12:50 PM   #21
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I don't accept that we're doing all that can reasonably be done. If the air quality in the Northeast is suffering mightily because of air pollution produced in other states, the federal government should step in.
I don't accept it either. There is much more that can be reasonably done. The issue is the lack of political will at both the federal and (many) state levels. There were instances of air quality in the US analogous to the Cuyahoga River fire, which galvanized public opinion to do something about air pollution. Now air pollution is literally much less visible and largely forgotten, though problems remain. In that context, there is nothing that will draw attention to the issue like someone wearing a respirator to protect him/herself because the government won't do what it should.

In any case, I neither use respiratory protection when cycling, nor would I recommend that others do so unless there is a specific health concern or they live someplace where the air quality is unusually bad. I'm not advocating anyone wear a respirator as a political statement. But if someone does need it, it would be better to use it than wait around until government fixes our air quality.
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Old 08-21-13, 05:52 AM   #22
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Well, I live in Beijing where the AQI is regularly far beyond the worst day in the US, UK, or Europe. If the air is not too bad I wear a Totobobo, but during the winter I wear a Respro. They both filter out small particulates (<2.5pm) but the Respro has a better fit and helps keep my face warm on sub-zero days.
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Old 08-21-13, 05:56 AM   #23
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unless there is a specific health concern
I'm guessing that you mean unless you're asthmatic or allergic or something, but PM10's are a known carcinogen - specifically for animals with lungs. That'll be thee and me.
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Old 08-25-13, 05:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by jolly_ross View Post
I'm guessing that you mean unless you're asthmatic or allergic or something, but PM10's are a known carcinogen - specifically for animals with lungs. That'll be thee and me.
Cancer risk from PM10 depends in part on what the particulate is, but diesel exhaust does contain carcinogenic compounds. In the case of Beijing, I agree that it is wise to wear respiratory protection while exercising.
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Old 08-25-13, 06:30 PM   #25
erig007
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
In the US, both the US EPA and some states forecast local air quality and provide real-time data from ambient air monitors (most of the monitoring data is from urban centers, that's also where the worst air quality tends to be). See here for starters: http://www.epa.gov/airdata/ Personally, I'm aware of when air quality is likely to be poor, but I ride anyway. There are a few days here where the ambient air does not meet regulatory standards. I do usually take it easy on those days to reduce the amount of contaminated air filtered through my lungs.

Where air quality is bad on a lot of days, or for people who have asthma or heart disease, using air filtration or not exercising on certain days may be very wise. (For example, there have been many studies showing that hospital admissions and deaths from heart attacks increase when the concentration of fine particulates is elevated).
local air quality forecast gives only a rough estimate because what matter is what you breath at any given time when you are 2 feet from the exhaust of a vehicle for instance

Last edited by erig007; 08-25-13 at 06:37 PM.
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