Are masks really effective for filtering contaminated air?

32 years ago Mexico City woke up with an unusual something, hundreds, if not thousands of dead birds in the trees, in the streets and on the cars. Many of them even died in mid-flight due to air pollution. Two years before, the city had suffered a devastating earthquake and after that thousands of people moved to the periphery of the city, increasing pollution levels.

Today Mexico City has two ghosts present: the earthquake and the pollution. But if we look beyond the horizon, on the other side of the planet, we will find a city similar to Mexico City – with 22 million inhabitants – that is accustomed to excessive levels of pollution.

In Beijing – or Bejing for some – it is completely normal to go out into the streets wearing masks to filter the air. But unlike what happens in other parts of the world, where people use them as a precaution, not to get sick with the flu or something more mundane, the inhabitants of this city carry special masks, with different filters and activated carbon capsules. purify the air they breathe by up to 99%.

[You may also be interested: 6 actions that you can take to improve the air of your city]

Use or not use a mask

However, there is no true line of masks that guarantee that your health will not be affected by the environmental impact. According to The Guardian, while some filter the air almost entirely, many only filter it to 70% and others even do not do it at all.

The problem is not only the quality of the mask, but there are some that do not conform to the face and allow the filtration of contaminated air, others that were designed without taking people's hair into account and also end up being useless at the moment of be used They also explain that it should be taken into account that there are people with respiratory or cardiac problems who need breathing facilities, and that although these masks provide pure air, they also involve an effort to achieve it.

[You may also be interested: Polluted air can make you feel less happy]

The masks that filter the air can be useful, but it is best to acquire them after making sure they fit your physical complexion and that they do filter the amount of air they promise to clean. Unfortunately most of these masks can only be obtained on the Internet, which does not allow them to be tested before buying them.

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The air continues as it did 30 years ago, but today more than ever we must start actions that end with pollution.

According to the UN, this is what you can do to combat air pollution:

– Use public transport or carpool, move by bike or just walk.

– Change to a hybrid or electric vehicle and when you take a taxi, try to make it electric.

– Turn off the car engine when you are stopped.

– Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy products; You will help reduce methane emissions emitted by livestock.

– Compost organic food and recycle non organic waste.

– Change to high efficiency heating systems and equipment for the home.

– Save energy: turn off lights and electronic devices when you're not using them.

– Never burn trash; you would contribute to increase air pollution.

– Choose non-toxic paint and the furniture where it is used.

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The Guardian