In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of pollution masks and their contribution to combat pollution. However, with a plethora of choices available to choose from, the process of selecting the best one for you can get pretty daunting. So here we are with our comprehensive buying guide that can help you decide the best kind of mask based on the kind of pollution your city has. But before we start, you should know exactly what kind of pollution you are dealing with, and the data you have must be a reliable one. While there are many sources to get pollution-related data, they are often misleading and inaccurate. Hence, investing in a reliable, accurate and portable air quality monitor would be the wisest thing to do. You can not only monitor the space around you but can also gauge the pollutants wherever you go. Check out our air quality monitors by following this link. So once you have a clear idea of the kind of pollutants you need protection from, you can start your search. Here are some of the popular kinds of pollution masks available in the market: The N99 and N100 category These masks can easily filter particulate matters which are smaller than 2.5μm in size. The 99 and 100 in the name denote its efficiency in filtering pollutants. While not entirely 100%, these pollution masks can definitely have a record of filtering out 99.97% of particulate matter, dust, non-volatile liquid pollutants, and fumes. However, it can’t help you with oil-based pollutants. So if you need protection from such kind of pollutants, these masks might not be the best option for you. Some popular brands which sell N99 masks are Vogmask, Smart Air and 3M. While N100 masks are not that easy to find, brands like 3M and GVS Elipse do manufacture them. You can even get in touch with an industrial supplier to get hold of these kinds of masks. These masks (N99 and N100) are available in all sizes (extra-small XS to extra-large XL) and are mostly reusable for around 5-6 months (based on the severity of pollution and usage). The N95 Variety N95 respiratory masks are the most common pollution masks available in the market. If you are sure that you are exposed to pollutants in the 0.3-2.5μm range, then this is the perfect one for you. Apart from pollution, these masks are also a good option if you want to protect yourself from the flu virus. Designed to filter around 95% of particulate matter of the said range, it can be reused for 2-3 days if worn regularly. If you feel suffocated inside a mask, you can go for an N95 aura respirator that provides sufficient ventilation to the wearer. The catch is that most of the brands make them only in one size and hence you can’t aspire for the perfect snug fit. Also, it needs to be replaced frequently. 3M, Honeywell, and Dettol are some popular brands manufacturing N95 masks. These are available online in the INR 90-150 range. The P95 Masks This is similar to the N95 mask except that it can also filter out oil-based pollutants. If you work in an industrial setup or are often exposed to oil-based pollutants and nonpoint source pollutants, you should go for a P95 mask. The biggest problem with these masks is that they get clogged very soon and have to be replaced every 8-10hours. This can be a problem as they are pretty expensive and difficult to find too. 3M is one of the most popular brands that manufacture these kinds of respiratory masks. HEPA Filter Masks These are relatively newer and state-of-the-art respiratory masks that are adept at filtering out a wide range of pollutants. Though very expensive, these are a boon to city dwellers that are regularly exposed to harmful pollutants and smog. These filters can filter out vapors, toxic gases, particulate pollution smog, and dust effectively. The exhalation valve also helps in good air circulation and removal of unwanted CO2, heat and water vapor from inside the mask. They come in three different sizes and are designed to give a snug fit. You just need to wash them regularly to avoid clogging or blocking. These are priced at around INR 7000 online and are manufactured by a brand called Respro. If the pricing is a problem, you can go for our desi product NasoFilters that is developed by a team in IIT Delhi. It has been proven to give you protection against smog, dust, particulate matter, pollen and a host of bacteria. These are priced at INR 294 for a pack of 24. While there are many such air pollution masks available, they are extremely pricey and may not suit our mundane requirements. While you go for a pollution mask, look for solutions that are reusable and doesn’t require a lot of care. Also, don’t just buy a mask because your friend is using the same or because it is the most popular one. Check and analyze if that would really solve your problem and protect you against the pollutants you are exposed to daily.