How can we protect ourselves from polluted air?

Alright, alright, alright, I hear you say. ‘Air quality sucks, but what can I do about it? Here are some useful information about how to not only make your body feel healthier, but also happier and more productive as well.

Indoor air pollution

If you live in a city, with dirty roads and smelly vents, you may think that by escaping inside you have escaped the pollution problem. But being inside is not a safe base either. Not only is indoor air made up of 50% outdoor air, but we also have all those terrible home pollutants to deal with, like radon and carbon monoxide. So what do you need to do to get the good stuff? That delicious air that makes you turn into the super human you were born to be.

Home Filters

The most obvious, effective but expensive way to keep your house clean is to install a filter. There are two main types; those which clean the whole house, by being installed in the ventilation or heating system, or stationary filters which essentially plug and play. Now, pricey options or not, this comparison exercise we leave it up to you. To be honest, the list of different air purifiers can go on and on and on...I don’t want to bore you to death.

However, disregarding the cost, we should be thinking about whether they actually work. Most available filters will protect you from odors and gases, but that’s only half of the story. What we really want to be protecting ourselves against are those particulate matter (PM). Which is where the HEPA filter comes in. HEPA filters are the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson of the filter world, in that they totally destroy the bad guys, while leaving a big smile on your face. In actual fact, HEPA filters filter around 99.97% of airborne particles and gases. Around the same success rate as The Rock has for rebooting a dying movie franchise.

Improve Ventilation

if HEPA filters don't tickle your fancy, perhaps a trickle vent will (try saying that five times in a row). Anyone that has walked into a room filled with adolescent boys knows the importance of good ventilation. Well a good trickle vent will not only save your nostrils, but will help save those kids’ lungs.

Unfortunately, improving ventilation isn’t as simple as flinging open the window. If you live in a city, doing so is an open invitation for PMs and gases. If you live in the countryside, bad ozone gets free reign. Either way, you lose. But a trickle vent will help escort pollution out, and keep it out. The biggest issue, again, is that they come at a cost. But on the bright side, they don’t require electricity and are very easy to install.

Plant a garden

This may not be as fun as animals, but filling your house with plants can still bring you joy. Plants filter carbon dioxide and convert it back into oxygen. Oxygen levels have been linked not only to productivity, but stress relief and serotonin production. Innovator Kamal Meatle has found that with a combination of three common types of household plants, a person can essentially seal themselves in a huge plastic bottle and not suffocate. The plants in question are; Areca Palm, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, and Money Plant. Whoever came up with those names was feeling creative!

Meattle’s Pahrahpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park, based in New Delhi, has now the cleanest air of any Dehli building because of these plants. Now, Meattle campaigns to introduce this system in buildings across Delhi. It goes to show, a good fica tree will help you focus.

An interesting side note about plants; they are used on spaceships to clean air. The International Space Station doesn’t share the same luxury we do, as the idea of a trickle filter was already out the window before they left the ozone layer. That pun has so many layers to it…

Outdoor air pollution

Sticking to green spaces and not intaking car exhausts will already take you a long way in reducing the harmful effects of air pollution, likewise, standing on the windy side of the road will help you out. But the only real solution we have as individuals for controlling the air we breath, is with a smog mask.

There are two core criteria which impact the effectiveness of an anti pollution mask - filter and fit. Now before I continue, yes we at Arinum make premium designer pollution masks. No matter if you’re a fan of fashion pollution masks or not, we make them because they genuinely make people's lives better.

Filter

The type of filter you should have depends on the type of pollution you want to avoid, whether it is particulate matter, gaseous pollution, or both. Protecting against particulate matter requires a particulate filter, whereas gases and vapours can mostly be accounted for using carbon filters. Although that last sentence may mean very little to you, when buying one of these pollution masks, have a look at the label and see what standard it’s held to. The most common is the US standard, NIOSH, which as a range of N95, N99 and N100. For the most part, N95 masks will filter 95% of the bad stuff (particles).

One thing that’s worth considering with these air pollution breathing masks is that the more protective they are, the harder it’s to breathe in. That’s rather counter productive, which is why some filters have valves, which act like ‘doors,’ allowing you to exhale in comfort. So this could be another aspect you would like to take into consideration.

Fit

Another, even more important component when buying a smog mask is, its fit. If it doesn’t fit properly, air can pass right by it, defeating the purpose of the pollution mask. Essentially the fit of the filter mask will be way more important than the filter itself since air takes the easiest way to your lungs. So make sure the anti pollution air mask you buy fits well on your face!

To sum it all up, the methods I outlined above are some of the ways in which you can regain control of your life. But in order to really solve these problems and help those that can’t help themselves, we, as a society, will need to work together.

Fredrik Kempe

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