Pollution Masks - advice please....

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  • With the general hype in the media around toxic air, not to mention the lung-full I get whenever sat at the lights on my commute through London I'm exploring some of the options.

    Can anyone share any preferences of which I should go for? Previous experiences with them? General positives / negatives associated?


  • I've got a Respro. It's sweaty in the summer and you have to change the filter. It leaves red marks on your face if you wear if for more than 20 minutes. I love it and wouldn't cycle without it in London.

  • Don’t bother

    Waste of time @mdcc_tester can explain how if they actually were effective you wouldn’t be able to exercise in them.

  • mdcc_tester can explain

    [citation needed] 🤷♂️

    A properly designed and fitted powered respirator can probably provide worthwhile protection against particulates with enough flow to make cycling possible.

    The GAC filters probably trap a fair amount of un- or partially-burnt hydrocarbons as long as you replace them at appropriate intervals. I haven't seen anything which claims to protect against NOx and I'd be sceptical of any such claim short of a supplied-air respirator with an SCR plant in the loop.

  • As tester says, you won’t stop the NOx. In terms of diesel fumes, which are massively on the increase if my own commute is anything to go by, I’d be interested to see what my half respirator does. The vapour filters catch pretty much all organic vapour and particulates down to a size I can’t remember. Essentially, diesel fumes on our roads are a mix of unburned and partially burned hydrocarbons and large particulates (black smoke) from the older diesels, smaller particulates from mid-age diesels (especially chuff of soot on acceleration), very small nanoscale particulates from the newest diesels and whatever that charred candy floss smell is you get from the Adblue cars. Not including the crap they belt out when started and running cold.

    Whatever, it’s all nasty shit and you’re asking a lot from a mask to remove it. A lot of the smaller particulates from newer diesels will simply pass straight through even the best industrial masks.

  • I have a respirator for work (unpowered but similar to the one pictured by mdcc tester) because I can be working with hazardous and contaminated materials. One thing that we have to do on a regular basis is to under go a face fit test. If it isn't forming a proper seal around the mouth and nose, then it is effectively useless. There isn't a single "pollution mask" for cyclists on the market that would pass a face fit test so for this reason they're fairly pointless right from the off.

    We're also advised to take regular breaks while using them in part so that the can be swabbed out of any build up of sweat and moisture from exhalation. Not going to be a lot of point to a pollution mask if you're having to take it off on a regular basis otherwise you'll just be recycling manky air.

    As mentioned by Jonny69, the masks just take out the big stuff (unless you don't change the filter very frequently) which is only a small part of the problem. So really, what they're doing is making the air smell better. If that makes you feel better about riding in the city then you absolutely should do it, but there isn't really any compelling reason other than that. In terms of exploring options, you're better off exploring different roads and riding those with less traffic on them and joining campaigns to reduce traffic and place tighter controls on vehicle emissions.

    I did use to wear one many years ago and there is one important tangible benefit. When it's properly cold outside, they're a lot more comfortable than a scarf or a buff over your mouth for keeping you warm. I suppose technically they may also offer some defence against Police use of mobile facial recognition as well if that's of concern to you.

  • I suppose technically they may also offer some defence against Police use of mobile facial recognition

    I doubt it. A simple Respro-style mask doesn't seem to correlate with the camouflage techniques which are known to attack face recognition.

  • Fair enough, I'm not really that up on the technology. I assumed that covering several of the key unique features (chin, lips, nose, etc) would be sufficient to prevent recognition but that's really just a guess.

    Might be time to look into the technology.

  • There are only three things protecting your privacy - legislation, cost benefit, and combinatorial explosion.

    Almost anything can be done with video analytics (if you have enough money and time) but :

    • it has to be legal, and
    • at some point the numbers get too large and the electricity required to power the computers would exhaust the resources of the earth

    For example tracking every UK citizen (60m) through Waterloo station (100m passengers per year) would require 6 quadrillion comparisons. That's roughly the same number of comparisons as there are ants on the planet.

    If the system was 99.99% accurate you'd have about 600 billion false matches to dig through. That's 1,644 million errors per day.

    So if we all club together and everyone in the country manually checks 30 results each per day, we could implement total surveillance of a single busy train station.

  • And how much can I get paid for this state sponsored stalking of miserable trainwankers.

  • There are only three things protecting your privacy - legislation, cost benefit, and combinatorial explosion

    Yes, and there are things you can do to increase the cost to your adversary. Of course, for most individuals, the interventions available don't pass a cost/benefit analysis for the individual, even if they might be sufficiently costly to the adversary to be prohibitive.

  • Pollution masks? Simple answer - don’t bother.

    @mdcc_tester, can I ask what you do to for a living? Interested in your broad spectrum of expertise.

  • Curryer

    Beef heart in a jalfrezi sauce tonight.

  • what you do to for a living...broad spectrum of expertise

    As little as possible, to give me time for my rather narrow spectrum of interests, none of which really rises to the level of expertise.

  • So deliveroo these days?

  • deliveroo

    Things haven't got that bad

  • Deliveroo is okay this time of year, you can quite easily earn £15p/h or more. For highly flexible, highly unskilled labour I don't think it's too bad. (Factor in tax self-assessment, holiday pay, increased wear on your bicycle, insurance, etc. and you lose a good chunk of that £15 though. And if you're smart enough to do that simple calculation, you are almost certainly qualified for a better job.)

    Back on topic, I was under the impression that masks help with large particles and therefore may be of use if you have asthma or something. Is that accurate?

  • Reminds me of a Richard Feynman quote. Paraphrasing here but it’s something like “I am a man of limited intelligence. I just focus my intelligence into a narrow field”. Or something.

  • https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Fe­ynman#The_Pleasure_of_Finding_Things_Out­_(1999)
    "I'm really still a very one-sided person and don't know a great deal. I have a limited intelligence and I've used it in a particular direction"

  • Thanks @Double_J. I've seen their ads loads recently. Which version do you have? The city one looks decent...

  • Thanks @mdcc_tester. Appreciate your insight

  • I used a (probably pointless) mask commuting years ago, the amount of condensation in my airways made it utterly horrible.

  • Thanks. My route is as away from main roads as it can but obviously there's still moments of considerable exposure so a mask that will take out the 'big stuff' is still of interest.
    One brand I've seen trying tackle the 'fit' issue is WAIR from France - they have a rubber edged mask under a scarf which evidently moulds to the user's face. May give that a go

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Pollution Masks - advice please....

Posted by Avatar for foreignfruit @foreignfruit