Surgical face masks work better than cheap face masks as protection against air pollutants
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 (Health Day News) – According to a new scientific study, face masks made of inexpensive cloth do very little to protect people from pollutants in the air. Although they may be hoping to prevent themselves from smelling the foul air, this does not suffice as an effective protection against air pollution.
Nowadays, it is quite a regular scenario in Asia for people to wear their washable or disposable cloth masks while walking along the street. With the increasing rate of air pollution in Asian nations, these masks are being worn as a barrier against particles in the air that may lead to diseases.
Unfortunately, according to studies published in the Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology Journal, these masks do little to prevent people from contracting illnesses due to air pollution. In fact, cloth masks bought in stores are made of cheap materials that can barely provide the benefits they are supposed to offer. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts also discovered that these inexpensive store-bought face masks perform poorly as protective devices for pollutants. This was the result of the study conducted by health scientists at the said university located in Amherst.
Richard Peltier, co-author of this study on the effectiveness of cheap cloth masks against air pollutants, stated that using such masks may pose public health risks. People assume that they are well protected each time they use the mask. However, in areas where the air pollution level is high, these cloth masks have no purpose at all.
The Environmental Health Sciences Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts also added that plain face masks have limited benefits for people. When it comes to smaller airborne pollutants, such cloth masks do not offer maximum protection. Unfortunately, many people place so much trust in these masks that they may stand next to a diesel truck and assume they are shielded from toxic chemicals and fumes.
With Stricter U.S Air Standards, Smog Reduction Can Prevent Several Illnesses
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 (Health Day News) – According to a new study, it is possible to save lives if two types of air pollution are prevented.
According to American Thoracic Society researchers (ATS), the rate of serious diseases can be reduced once fine particles and levels of ozone are minimized. This will also lead to less chance of people getting sick and skipping school or work. The recommendations by the ATS are actually stricter than the U.S. EPA standards at present.
To state the exact figures, 9,320 lives may be spared annually if the air standards in the country are made stricter. An eight-hour ozone standard of at least 0.060 parts per million is also ideal, instead of the 0.070 standard by the EPA. The same holds true with an annual standard for fine particles of 11 micrograms for each cubic meter instead of the 12 microgram standard set by the EPA.
By implementing tougher standards, health risks can be prevented. These include hospital admissions, emergency room visits and heart attacks. A reduction of 21,400 emergency room visits is also possible once these standards are implemented. Most importantly, sick leave and absences from work and school can be minimized as air pollution is reduced. The Annals of the American Thoracic Society featured this study, which was also published online in the journal’s August issue.
Kevin Cromar, the lead author of the study, claimed in a society news release that there is no similar information on the impact of air pollution on the health of individuals residing in areas with air pollution levels beyond the EPA standards. The group also explained that the ATS’s recommended pollution level is based on studies conducted on humans and animals locally and internationally.