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Pollution masks

KerSploshKerSplosh Posts: 30
edited May 2017 in Commuting general
There have been a couple of threads here in the past on pollution masks, but they are a few years old now. I've just started a commute out through East London which takes in a couple of main roads and it leaves me at the end of each day tasting a bit "engine fumes" in my mouth.

I've ordered a mask to see if this will help, but does anyone here have any experiences to share on using these? I'll be able to give some informed comment soon. What experiences do you have?


  • crematorcremator Posts: 99
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,760
    Was considering this ( ... k-00121005 ) myself, too many of the others make you look like a refugee from a Marvel film!

    Some interesting info ... o-biologic
    and ... g-results/

    The Respro don't get decent write ups! I like the idea of the totobobo leaving your nose free, it may sound counter intuitive but has some benefits.
  • KerSploshKerSplosh Posts: 30
    I ended up getting a Respro and it seems to do something, but as stated in the links above, the research indicates that it is not quite as good as others.

    Also, I'm getting quite a bit of chaffing on my neck and although less 'engine fume' taste in my mouth at the end of a ride, still some.

    Might have to try a different mask, or get a new job..
  • Thank you so much for creating the new topic here. I am much glad to find it here. I think everyone should wear the pollution marks where riding their bike. And for me I do that always.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    You obviously don't live in a village in the depths of leafy Surrey. The worst we have is the pungent smell of cow poop.
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  • CRAIGO5000CRAIGO5000 Posts: 697
    I have to cycle through Trafford Park in Manchester twice a day. The smog and censored bellowing out of every building is scary. One particularly business on Guiness Rd is awful. It's a used car parts smelting business and some day there is a thick blue acrid smoke filling the road. I've rode through it on several occasions with my breath held for as long as I can and my eyes sting! I took a breath once I needed and my throad instantly burnt.

    I phoned the council as there is also a children's play area over the road from it. Nothing was ever done as the following Friday, it was blue smoke madness.

    Crazy world. When I get Cancer, this will be the root cause.
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  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,760
    As I frequently ride where pm2.5 levels are over 300 I wouldn't worry too much about most UK cities.

    I've got some of the 3M disposables to try (the one with the respiration valve), will report back next month when I've tried one out!
  • imatfaalimatfaal Posts: 2,716
    The Rookie wrote:
    As I frequently ride where pm2.5 levels are over 300 I wouldn't worry too much about most UK cities.

    I've got some of the 3M disposables to try (the one with the respiration valve), will report back next month when I've tried one out!

    Be interested to hear - 10 hours of london riding a week make me think that, especially in summer, I should see if I can put up with wearing one
  • cooldad wrote:
    You obviously don't live in a village in the depths of leafy Surrey. The worst we have is the pungent smell of cow poop.

    Or, as I pointed out to the guys I was with on a Sunday ride a few weeks ago (none with anything more substantial than an AssSaver) the pungent taste of cow poop.
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • Just been looking in to getting a mask, as on the one hand I get a form of hayfever induced asthma and on the other my commute of approx 8 miles each way has only about 50/50 traffic/clear.

    some proper fugly looking things out there but the more filter surface area for a given filter, the more airflow you can get, hence soem of the air raid gas mask style things.

    have any of you London based commuters been trying them out - any noticable benefits or pitfalls?


  • Man Of LardMan Of Lard Posts: 903
    Funnily enough this question was asked on the Naked Scientists podcast last week: ... ually-work

    Précis: surgeons masks - useless; fully fitted masks work for particulates but not for NOx (and it's NOx that inflames the lungs)
  • mr_eddymr_eddy Posts: 825
    In my opinion masks are generally not worth it - Cheap masks like you see people wearing in China are basically useless as they leave gaps around the edges (rending them pointless) and even expensive masks with carbon filters etc can suffer the same issue, yes if the fit is PERFECT then it will reduce the number of nasty particles you breath in but you will also end up going slower because you are breathing heavier and getting hotter so I suspect the extra time especially on a long commute will ultimately mean the net result is the same.

    Also I have been told that wearing a mask increases humidity in your nasal and oral pathways which can lead to an increased chance of getting a URI / Virus etc

    I prefer avoidance rather than protection so I chose quieter roads or where possible leave earlier in the day, My commute is 30% longer than it could be but crucially its through a mix of back roads and wooded cycle paths. Even if you can't change your route I would say being alert and changing your cycling approach is more beneficial - I.e if you see a smoking cab or big old lorry then hold back and wait for bit of a gap.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 62,425 Lives Here
    There's also vanity to consider.
  • joncomelatelyjoncomelately Posts: 658
    As mentioned above, the evidence suggests masks don't necessarily do too much (although, the end point measurements tend to be analysis of chemical levels rather than functional) - BUT, on one of my commuting routes that goes through town I get wheezy if I don't wear a mask, and I don't get wheezy if I do (a Respro one with the Sportsa valves), so they do a little something for me in specific situations. I don't wear one the rest of the time as they can be a bit of a pain with glasses fogging, and if you need to drink or chat, but I sometimes consider using them in deep winter as they seem to keep the inspired air warmer, and less likely to also make me wheezy.
  • jfparisjfparis Posts: 22
    If you read the studies out there (Can't find something that look fully backed and recent) you will see that most of the properly designed mask work. (i.e. do not use the surgical masks they are useless)

    Now how do you define work. They could filter 70% or 99% of the particles and some are also designed for NOx. Fit is key so the best rated mask will lose in efficiency if it does not fit your face well. So you reduce your exposure but this is not as good as it could have been

    Of all those pollutants, there are some for which a small dose is consider as not that significant. There is a legal limit for PM10. Other are more potent and there is no limit for PM2.5

    So is it worth it? All depends on your sensitivity, and your exposure. To me it makes a difference. When no mask, build up in pollution leads to some wheezing after a 1 month in London. Goes away very quickly if I move to the country side for a week. More interesting, getting some symptoms as well when tubing and also after modifying the commute to a longer, quieter route.
    If I wear a mask daily, then no symptom. Is the mask 100% efficient. Probably not but seems that it is having a positive effect.

    PS: wearing those masks in winter is quite easy. Warmer weather make it difficult (humidity build up)
  • The masks do little, but to some people it's the comfort of being able to breathe a little easier that makes them prefer having one. Especially if you live in a particularly big city.

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