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When Should I Wear a Face Mask?

There are many everyday activities that we do where you should consider wearing some sort of a filtration mask for.  There are many pollutants in their air from car exhaust to pollen and any of these particles can have an impact on your system.  Here are a few activities where wearing a filtration mask could be beneficial:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Mowing your lawn
  • Living in downtown areas
  • Going for a walk
  • Pollen season (Spring time )
  • Windy Days
  • Dusty Areas
  • Cleaning your house
  • Construction
  • Garage Work 
  • Gardening 
  • Hiking
  • Being around Areosols
  • Delivery People

What we are concerned with are harmful particles floating in the air that enter our lungs as we breath.  The small the partical the most dangerous it generally is as it can go through your lungs and into your bloodstream.  A mask with a PM2.5 filteris what is typically recommended for the high quality consumer level protection.

WHAT IS PM2.5?

PM stands for particulate matter which is also called particle pollution; the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, and smoke, are typically large enough to be seen which allows us to avoid them and / or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye.  It is the ones that we cannot see that we are most concerned with as we are not even aware that we are inhaling potentially dangerous toxins.  The fact is that some of these particles are so small that they can only be detected by an electron microscope.

Here are 2 Particle sizes you may want to understand:

  • PM10: Inhalable particles with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller
  • PM2.5: Fine inhalable particles with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.

How small is 2.5 micrometers?

Think about a single hair from your head. The average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter making it 30 times larger than the largest fine particle.

These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.

What are the Harmful Effects of PM?

Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Some particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream. Of these, particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or PM2.5, pose the greatest risk to health.

Fine particles are also the main cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the United States, including many of our treasured national parks and wilderness areas.

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