choosing the right pollution mask for Delhi

How to Choose the Right Anti Pollution Mask

Best Anti Pollution Mask in India Revealed

Choosing the best anti pollution mask for general use or for Diwali can be quite difficult. Many options are available with confusing scientific specifications so it is hard to find out which one to us.

To make your life simpler, we got into the technicalities to find out which mask can work for you.

This is a long post you might want to skip the research part and jump directly to the results and how we got there by using the navigation section below.

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The Verdict: Best Anti Pollution mask

Specifications to look for in an anti pollution mask

Or you can read the complete article

No City For The Allergic & Asthmatic

Anyone who has lived in Delhi would realize just how polluted the city gets. The city already has the unenviable distinction of being one of the most polluted cities in the world and it becomes unlivable during Diwali, the festival of lights and fireworks.

According to a study by the Indian Environmental Portal, during Diwali the level of pollutants like SO2, NO2 as well as particulate matter smaller than 10μM is 2 to 6 times more than normal. This makes life miserable for asthmatics and people who are allergic.

Suspended particulate matter is an evil concoction of chemicals like aluminum, arsenic, sulfur, manganese, iron dust Cadmium, Cobalt that are used to add sparkles and colors to firecrackers and get released in fumes. These are very harmful; we do not even want to talk about how they affect the body.

Any Pollution mask worth it’s salt should protect the wearer from two kinds of pollutants

  • Respiratory Suspended Particulate Matter with diameter less than 10μM (PM10) and less than 2.5 (PM2.5)
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

Different Types of Masks

Different types of respiratory protection
All images under CC. Sources: (1)Pixabay (2) Maskedlion3 on deviantart (3) Wikipedia Commons

Anyone who watches movies and TV series would identify three kinds of masks/respirators.

  1. The simple flat mask, also known as a surgical mask that doctors wear.
  2. The more sophisticated dust and particulate  mask known as a respirator worn by traffic policemen at crossings and tourists
  3. Those post apocalyptic gas mask or respirator made famous by the TV series Breaking Bad.

Each type has a particular application:

Surgical mask acts as a simple filter against particulate matter, a respirator usually offers better protection from fine suspended particulate matter and microorganisms while a gas mask protects against chemical fumes depending on the kind of filter they are fitted with.

Now the question is what type works best as an anti pollution mask? According to an article in qz.com, urban Chinese are spending a lot of money on anti pollution masks that are practically useless. Most buy simple surgical masks that do not filter PM2.5 particulate matter, the most harmful of the lot. Another study in India by the IIS found that most Indian either use the wrong types of masks or do not know how to use them in the right way.

↓↓ Continue Reading Below ↓↓

Anti Pollution

What to Look For in an Anti Pollution Mask?

So how does one select the best possible anti pollution mask?

Identifying the Pollutants

First we need to identify the types of pollutants: gases, particulate matter, metals and salts that are present  in the atmosphere on normal days and during high pollution days like on Diwali. Next, one needs to find out the respirator that offers maximum protection from these pollutants.

For a list of pollutants I referred to a study by the Indian Environment Portal and matched it to the respirator selection guide by 3M.

Anti Pollution Mask Specifications

According to my studies, N-95 and N-99 respirators are your best bet when it comes to anti pollution masks that actually work. Those codes represents the particle filter class; a N-95 respirator is able to filter out 95% of particulate matter (PM2.5) while a N-99 respirator is better because it filters 99% of particulate matter. A N-95 respirator is suitable for almost all pollutants including heavy metal salts, an ordinary filter does not protect one from noxious gases, for that you need a mask that is coated with absorbents like Alumina and Silica.

There are dozens of brands that offer respirators, mainly for industrial and lab applications so things can get mighty confusing. But fear not friend, I have some recommendations based on products that are easily available online in India. Six companies that sell specialized anti pollution masks available in India are 3M, Honeywell, Atlanta Healthcare Cambridge Masks™,Respro®Vogmask and Totobobo.

Our verdict

Honeywell Masks

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company and a very famous international brand known for its thermostats, security systems and air purifiers. This company has a 125 year old legacy and is the world leader in industrial safety products.

Honeywell offers a variety of disposable PM 2.5 masks with several superior features.

Collage showing three Honeywell Anti Pollution Masks
Honeywell Anti-Pollution Masks (Image credits Honeywell)

Mask Rating

Honeywell anti-pollution masks are KN-95 rated which means that they filter up to 95% of particulate matter and air born bacteria and viruses. KN-95 is a standard of respirators which indicates that these masks are suitable for non-oily particulates like dust, mist and microorganisms.

These masks are made out of paper and have a 3 layer filter media which increases the filtration time by almost 50% as compared to similar products.

Sealing and fit

The design is three dimensional and ergonomic making these masks suitable for most faces. Unlike other brands the nose clip is made of non-metallic composite material which is easy to adjust and difficult to break.  The masks have a snug fit and can also be easily worn under a helmet.

Comfort

The inner layer is made of non-allergen material and the bands are made of soft cotton for comfort.  The bands are meant to be looped around the ears which makes them easy to wear and remove compared to masks with a headband.

The earloops are ultrasonically welded and not stapled. Welded bands are stronger and do not get caught up in hair and in facial hairs unlike staples.

These masks are comfortable to war in high heat conditions for an extended period of time owing to the design which ensures even dissipation of heat over the mask surface reducing the sense of stuffiness on wearing the mask. The exhalation valve in some models reduces breathing effort.

Price of Honeywell anti-pollution masks in India

The price ranges from  50 to 250 per piece. The masks are available in packs of 3, 5 and 10 and come in attractive colors and prints. They are foldable and available in attractive user friendly packaging making them easy to carry. They have a storage life of 5 years if the packaging is not opened.

Buy Honeywell Anti-Pollution Masks in India on Amazon.in

Buy Honeywell Anti-Pollution Masks in India on Flipkart.com

Please note that these masks are disposable and cannot be washed.

3M N-95 respirators

3M is a well known name in personal protective equipment. The company’s culture of innovation is the stuff of legends and management case studies. They offer a huge range of N-95 respirators each with a specialized application most of them are not available easily. Several models are available online, I looked at their specifications to find which ones are best suited as anti pollution masks and this is what I recommend based on the best deals.

Buy 3M 9010 on Amazon

Buy 3M ZSALNNFFC2122 on Amazon

Buy 3M Particulate Respirator 8210 on Amazon

Buy 3M 9332+ Aura Disposable Respirator Mask on Amazon

The downside of these respirators is that these are disposable and so should not be used more than once.

Cambridge masks™

Cambridge Mask™ Co, a UK based startup funded by Y Combinator (YC) offers N 99 antipollution masks in India. The company has partnered with Atlanta Heathcare, an Indian air quality solutions company to sell these masks in India.

Technology

These masks use military grade technology and an advanced triple layer filtration system that removes 99 per cent of PM10, PM 2.5 and even PM0.3 pollutants. They also have a layer of activated carbon filter developed by UK’s Ministry of Defense that removes bacteria, viruses and gaseous pollutants.

Image used with permission

Primary filter layer

This layer is designed to filter out larger particles up to PM10. The surface is dyed in attractive patterns using technology that ensures that the design will not be removed by use or by washing.

Three-ply micro particulate layer

The second layer is designed to filter finer PM 2.5 and PM 0.3 particles. This layer is made of synthetic fabric using a process that creates fine webs of filament that filters pollutants.

Carbon filter layer

The final layer is made of activated carbon fibers spun into the cloth. The nano carbon filaments trap bacteria and viruses thus protecting the user.

N99 tested

Cambridge masks™ are N99 certified by Nelson Labs US which tests for NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) compliance.

Product range

Image used with permission

Cambridge masks™ are available in a mind boggling range with interesting British names like The Admiral, The Churchill, The lady Mcbeth etc. Choosing the right model is a bit confusing so let me explain the trick.

Choose the size

The masks come in various sizes all the way from extra small (XS 98X132mm) for small kids to extra-large for adults (XL 150X207mm)

Choose the valve type

There are three kinds of masks, without valve, with one valve and with two valves. The rule is to choose the one with valves in case you are performing strenuous tasks like jogging or cycling while wearing the mask.

Choose the design

Last but not the least, choose the model based on the design that you prefer. There are 15 attractive designs for men, women and for kids to choose for. Note that the some designs might not be available in some sizes.

Where to buy Cambridge Masks™ in India?

These masks are available in India through Atlanta Healthcare and the entire range is also available on Amazon.in.

Buy Cambridge masks on amazon.in

Price of Cambridge Masks™ in India

Number of valves MRP (INR)
No valve ₹ 1799
1 valve ₹ 1999
2 valves ₹ 2199

Please note that discounts could be available online. At the time of writing this blog there was a 10% discount on valveless, 15% off on 1 valve and 10% off on 2 valve models.

Other details

Life of the mask: According to the manufacturer these are non disposable masks that can be used regularly between 3 to 6 months (200 breathing hours) depending on the severity of pollution.

Washable: Masks are washable by hand. Note that washing will not clean the pollutants and will just help clean off dust particles stuck to the outer layer of the mask. You will still need to replace the mask after the life is over.

Respro® Masks

Respro® offers antipollution masks in the premium range (₹1000 – ₹4000). They are a UK based company and offer masks that are classified according to activity (cycling, running, everyday commuting and motorcycling).

Respro® masks are certified EN149 FFP1 which is a European standard equivalent to N95.

Life & durability

These masks come with removable filters which should be replaced every month. They have a comfortable to wear durable neoprene (rubber) shell that can be washed. These masks have a malleable nose clip for effective sealing. These masks have an ‘extreme’ look which is a nice thing but might not be preferred by less flashy folks.

Sizes and fit

Respro® masks are available in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes that are based on the build of the user. These masks are NOT available for children. You can refer to their mask size guide to select the right size for you.

Respro® anti-pollution masks available in India

collage showing respro techno cinqro and city anti pollution masks that are available in India
Image used with permission courtesy respro.com

Respro® Techno™ Mask (Price in India ₹ 2999)

This mask is recommended for walking or cycling in urban environment where pollution is high and diesel fumes are present. The filter in these masks has sub-micron filtration capability which means that it is able to filter particles less than 1 micron in size. Techno mask filter has a layer of activated charcoal which can absorb toxic gases like NO2 and SO2 that are present in the air.

Buy Techno™ Mask colour on amazon.in

Respro® Cinqro™ Mask (Price in India ₹ 3999)

Suitable for cycling, running or activities in which the breathing rate is higher than normal. These masks have special valves that allow higher air flow. It has the same filter as the techno mask with activated charcoal which filters pollutants.

Buy Cinqro™ Mask on amazon.in

Respro® City™ Mask (Price in India ₹ 2699)

Made for protection against vehicular exhaust fumes, odors and against dust this mask is suitable for wearing during your daily commute. It has a dust filter and an activated charcoal filter to remove odors.

Buy City™ Mask on amazon.in

collage showing respro sportsta allergy and streetsmart pollution masks
Image used with permission courtesy respro.com

Respro® Sportsta™ Mask (Price in India ₹ 3199)

Suitable for outdoors where a lot of dust is present these masks are made for strenuous activities like cycling and running. It filters sub-micron particles but does not have an activated charcoal layer.

Buy Sportsta™ Mask on amazon.in

Respro® Allergy Mask (Price in India ₹ 2999)

A mask for hypersensitive people, it filters all kinds of allergy inducing particles like cleaning agents, perfumes, pollen etc. Inert materials which are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction are used to make this mask and so it has been classified as an allergy free product by the British Allergy Foundation.

Buy Respro Allergy Mask on amazon.in

Respro® Streetsmart™ Mask (Price in India ₹ 999)

This is a cheap and reusable EN149-FFP3 (European equivalent of N99 standard) mask that is designed for a regular commuter in the city.

Buy Respro Streetsmart™ Mask on amazon.in

Respro® Masks are available in India in collaboration with beyond sports. You can also buy them online on Amazon, on the beyond sports website as well on the Respro® website (free shipping worldwide).

In Delhi NCR you can also buy these masks at the beyond sports outlet in Gurugram. The address is

Beyond Sports PVT Ltd
Ess Kay Tower
Lower Ground Floor
Old Railway Road
Canara Bank Building
Gurugram 122001
Haryana, India

You can find out more about these products on the Respro® blog.

 

Totobobo Mask

Totobobo is based out of Singapore and Hong Kong and a well known brand particularly in Europe and Asia. They have one product that comes in two sizes; standard size for men and a smaller size for women and children.

totobobo anti pollution mask in india
Image used with permission courtesy Totobobo.com

Totobobo masks are now available in India. They are available in F-92, F-94 and F-96 specification, for a city as polluted as Delhi, Roopak, Totobobo’s India re seller recommends a mask with F-94  filters. These anti pollution masks are quite popular among cyclists and come with some really good features. The mask itself is reusable and is fitted with filters that can be replaced.

Seal Check

totobobo anti pollution mask smart seal
Image used with permission courtesy Totobobo.com

Performance of an anti pollution mask is as good as the seal. In other masks there is no way to find out if it is tightly fitted on the face. Totobobo has solved this problem using an innovative ‘water-mark’ technique in which the frosted surface of the mask becomes transparent where there is good skin contact and remains translucent where there is a leakage. In case the mask still doesn’t fit you can always reshape it using a blower or hot water as shown in this video on the totobobo vimeo channel.

↓↓ Continue Reading Below ↓↓

Home Cleaning Services

Filter life check

In case of regular masks, there is no way to find out when they need to be replaced. Totobobo masks are transparent and their filter is white, so you know it’s time to change the filter when it’s color starts to turn brown or even black.

The price of Totobobo anti pollution masks is on the high side but the mask is totally worth it. Totobobo was recommended by Guardian for use by cyclists in the UK.

How to Buy Totobobo Anti Pollution Masks in India

At the moment these masks are available through Roopak, Totobobo’s India re seller.

You can either send an inquiry on Totobobo India’s India mart page or visit the Totobobo India website. You can also follow their Facebook page for updates and for additional information as they are very responsive to messages.

Or you can call Mr Roopak directly on his mobile number 9871166668. You can request delivery anywhere in India.

 

Vogmask Anti Pollution Masks

This is a relatively new brand available in India. What differentiates them from other products is that they are available in different colors and designs and look better than the plain white industrial looking ones. Vogmask respirators are N-99 rated, i.e they filter an average of 99.978% particulate matter (PM2.5), which is better than N-95 masks. Make sure that you select the ones that are N-99 rated and marked CV; C stands for activated carbon filter which absorbs pollutants like ozone and sulfur dioxide and also filters out unpleasant smells while V means that the model has an exhaust valve which prevents condensation from building up.

Vogmask *Kinski N99 CV. Image credits Vogmask.in
Vogmask *Kinski N99 CV

According to FAQ’s on the Vogmask website, the masks need to be cleaned regularly with regular water and should be replaced once breathing becomes difficult.

You can either buy Vogmask anti pollution masks online on amazon.in or visit their store located in Saket, Delhi.

Vogmask Store in Delhi Address

Nirvana Being

Select Citywalk Plot No A 3 & P18 District center

Saket, New Delhi

Landmark: On ground floor right next to the Häagen-Dazs shop.

Final words

An anti pollution mask should be used carefully if it is to be effective. It is important to ensure that the mask fits well on the face otherwise it will be useless. Also remember to read the usage instructions carefully.

Do you have anything else to add? Have you used anti pollution masks?

If yes how was your experience. Let us know in the comment section.

Article updated: 23rd August 2017

This article has affiliate links to amazon.in. When you click on these links and make a purchase I will earn a very small commission for my efforts. 

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About Ashutosh Bharadwaj

When he was a kid; Ashutosh read that the most interesting people have little or no idea about what they are going to be when they grow up. Now, inspite of being an Adult, Ashutosh is still hung up on that thought.

28 comments

  1. Lakshmana Murthy B

    Ashutosh,
    Your article was quite informative and provided details and brand names that I had not even heard of. I am yet to search for price details. Can you please let me know how the N99 mask from Atlanta Healthcare is and the mask from Dettol is. These were readily available on Amazon.
    Also I had seen a product from, what seemed like,an Indian company – Respra – would you be aware of their products?
    Really appreciate your post,
    A big thumbs up.
    Lakshman

    • Dear Mr Lakshman

      Thanks a lot for liking my post. The hard work that I put into it seems worthwhile after your appreciation. I went through the details of Atlanta Masks. The company seems genuine and manufactures these masks using technology from Cambridge masks of the UK. The masks are N99 certified and tested by a well known lab in India so it should be a genuine N99 mask. I have doubts about the fitting of the masks as the performance of a mask depends on how well it fits on the nose and mouth and do not have a first hand experience so I cannot comment. What I really like is the fact that they have mentioned that the mask needs to be changed periodically and there is a clear indication (difficulty in breathing) when the filters are clogged.
      I was unable to find anything about Respra masks. I think the company is not based in India and they sell online only so I won’t be ab;e to comment. In case you are looking for a cost effective mask I would suggest 3M disposable masks. I have included the links to buy these masks in the article itself.

      Regards
      Ashutosh

  2. Thanks for the article, atleast came to know about N95 and N99 ratings for buying mask. Can you share u share you view on Atlanta Healthcare Cambridge N99 product its 2000 Rs compared to totobobo which cost 2700 Rs.

  3. Oops Sorry, u have already reviewed Atlanta product. Please ignore my question above, sorry for inconvenience.

  4. Lookout for masks by on of world leaders respro soon entering indian market. There masks are not just a class apart technically, they also make a fashion statement.

    • I was not able to get in touch with respro representatives in India. As soon as they launch in India earnestly I will get in touch with them and review the products. Thanks a lot for your comment. 🙂

      • Dear Ashutosh,
        Respro is finally in India under an exclusive arrangement with Beyond sports pvt ltd, a startup dealing in health , lifestyle and sports products. I would be happy to connect you to them. Please share your number/email id .

        • Thanks a lot for the update Dheeraj. I wanted to include respro models in the review as well. I have sent you an e mail.

          Regards
          Ashutosh

        • I am working in a Pharma Company for the last 30 years. Now my age is 63 and I have no BP or Sugar. From the last 15 years While working I used to feel very tired a nd my body has become tight. Luckily I went to US for 4months trip. At US after 7days I felt that my nerves was relaxing slowly. Please call me to discuss more.

  5. Hi Ashutosh,
    Cheers for such an informative article.
    How would you rate the Air Mask by Dettol?
    The company doesn’t specify it as an N95/N99 respirator, it only informs us that the mask protects from PM2.5, bacteria, dust and pollen.
    ( http://www.dettol.co.in/products/air-protect-mask/air-protect-mask/ )
    Is it good enough or should we look for N-rated masks only?
    Will appreciate your thoughts Ashutosh.
    Thanks.

    • Thanks a lot for your comment Dhiraj. I noticed these masks on Amazon India. Checked out the details and seems like this mask is not rated N95 or N99. It is mentioned that this it filters PM 2.5 particles but the level of filtration is not mentioned. I have e mailed the company and hope that I will get to speak to a company representative to find out all the details and even include the product in the blog. I will let you know as soon as I have some information.

      • Thanks for the reply.
        In fact i checked it again, this time closely, and it does mention “KN 90 level filter material”.
        Did some research on that and found out that it is a Chinese standard as opposed to all the other N-rated US standards and it means “90% efficiency”.
        So i guess that answers my own question.
        Appreciate your response though Ashutosh.
        Cheers.

        • Good research Dhiraj and thanks for this information. I will update this in the next revision. KN 90 Rated Material might be misleading thought as if the sealing is not good the mask will be useless. I will clarify this with the manufacturer when I do a review. Thanks again!

  6. Would you know of 3M / Honeywell / other high quality disposable masks for kids (around 20kg / 7 years)? Most on the amazon site are for adults, or else are non-disposables.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment Amit. The only two brand that had kids sizes were Totobobo and Vogmask. I did not find any disposable mask that was in small sizes probably because these are personal protective equipment made for workers.

  7. I have a 4 yr old. Bought n95 on pead recommendation and sizing and breathing is a big issue in that.
    Next best is vogmask and cambridge which have sizes…can you conpare these two brands plz. Comparisions needed to make final pick as thy r super expensive and I run d risk of loosing it in a day because my kiddo is hardly 4…

    • Thanks a lot for your comment Nidhi. I am more inclined towards the Cambridge masks as they have a nose clip that ensures god sealing around the nose and the mouth. Otherwise all specifications are similar.

  8. Misleading information from many of these mask manufacturers. N99/N95 is a certification from NIOSH. if the mask doesn’t have the approval number on the mask – then it is not NIOSH approved. So the Vogmask / Totobobo masks you mention are in fact misleading in their advertising. Ask them directly if they are NIOSH APPROVED. If they state they ‘conform to NIOSH standard CFR etc….etc…’ then they are avoiding the question – ask them for the approval number. the N99 they use is purely to market their product on the back of a certification that they don’t have. very poor….very poor.

  9. Just wanted to know the filter life of these masks. If I have to spend every week for a new mask it may or may not be worth buying such a costly product. Id rather buy a replaceable filter mask like the one dettol makes.
    Would like your views on filter life and the best one to purchase keeping money and utility in mind.

  10. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really recognise
    what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked.

  11. Sir, could you please share the life of N99 mask

    • The N99 masks by 3M are disposable so they should only be used one time. Totobobo masks filter life depends on the usage. The filter needs to be changed once it starts turning black. I do not have knowledge on the life of Vogmask masks.

  12. Good analysis and information with all the required inputs and links.

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