Air Pollution Essays

Air pollution has been living alongside out since a long time ago. We have been trying to battle it out but it takes time to completely eliminate this problem. Which is why, for the time being, it is better to protect ourselves while fighting the air pollution. As much as it is important to protect yourselves, it is also important to know what you’re protecting yourself from in order to further enhance your protection.

Here we have, compiled a list of information and studies that are related with air pollution. It is a little wordy but definitely worth your time to read! 

“Inhalation of smoke of firecrackers is very harmful not just to the asthmatic and the elderly but also to health human beings and can cause cough, fever and can also cause acute eosinophillic pneumonia.”

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“Cyclists should wear an effective air filter mask or better move away from the busy roads.”
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“What is haze? Where does it come from? What can we do?”

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“However, that doesn’t mean we are that much better off indoors. In fact, the air in our homes can be far more polluted than the air outside, even in a major city.”

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“Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have determined that the very air we breathe can be an invisible catalyst to cardiovascular disease.”

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“Cyclist! Wear an effective mask, or move away from the busy roads!”

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“Study linked pregnant women’s exposure to smog and air pollution to lower IQ in their babies. How concerned pregnant women should be?”

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“Cycling to work may seem the healthy option, but a study has shown that people riding in cities inhale tens of millions of toxic nanoparticles with every breath, at least five times more than drivers or pedestrians.”

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“Air pollution causes premature death for thousands of people in Hong Kong each year.”

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“While riding a bicycle is a healthier alternative to driving a car or sitting on a bus because of the physical activity it entails, poor air quality in urban setting counteracts those benefits.”

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A research published on 13-3-2009 in the Particle and Fibre Toxicology Indicates that wearing a respirator may reduce the risk of heart attack.”

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“Unfortunately, most buses are powered by diesel engines that actually pollute the air inside the bus. Studies show the pollution gets trapped inside the bus, where kids breathe it in.”

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“Smoke particles from burning incense were found to cause cancer of the upper respiratory track.”

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Enough of the tedious information, now lets have a look at how some of our users have enjoyed using our Totobobo Mask and how it has helped them battle air pollution!

“Whatever is on the filters, glad that stuff is not in my lungs!”
John from London, U.K.”

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“After using it for a more than a month, she was happy with the performance of Totobobo and can really recommend it.”

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“From my personal experience of using a mask over the last five or six years I would say is particularly effective at preventing infections such as flu and is very good at hayfever prevention and preventing dust from triggering my asthma.”

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“I can actually smell fresh air when I inhale. I can bike. I can walk outside to buy groceries.”

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“Wearing a good mask has played its role in sustaining my interest in commuting over the years — so I buy a mask if it seems interesting to me and give it a spin. ”

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“Since I began commuting to the centre of London where traffic pollution is worst, I started using double 96% filter for my mask.”

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“Overall, the performance was solid, and is an excellent choice for those concerned about air quality.”

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“For extended periods of time the mask was comfortable even during the intense workout of a day-long bike ride.”

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“I’ve been using it for 2 months and I like my job again. It cuts out the general air pollution around but if you’re right behind a truck or similar you still breathe in some gas but if you know how to avoid and dodge that while your riding then this mask really helps.”

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“Totobobo might not look sturdy but looks can deceiving, if you use it properly the mask last for a long time.”

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I researched many masks, but still feel Totobobo is the best mask I can get.”

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“My experience using the mask has generally been excellent, and I have recommended it to many people. Using the mask is very easy. Once it’s on, it is very comfortable and I tend to forget about it.”

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“We do feel protected – Totobobo Mask sent us specially customized masks for our toddlers.”

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We hope the information provided above has helped you have a deeper understanding into air pollution and how Totobobo Masks are able to fight together with you!

 

Totobobo winter collection

This “Winter collection” is not a fashion series, but the collection of used Totobobo filters throughout the last winter in Beijing, China.

Danni Moody, an English teacher living in Beijing, posts the following picture on her Instagram and Facebook.

Danni Moody's photo of used Totobobo filters over the winter of 2014 in Beijing.   Photo credit: Danni Moody at Junkateer
Danni Moody photo of used Totobobo filters over the winter of 2014 in Beijing. Photo credit: Danni Moody at Junkateer

From Danni Moody:

I’ve lived in Beijing teaching English for 1 year. I ordered my Totobobo in November when the pollution starting getting bad. The pollution is much worse in winter which is 5-6 months long here. 9 out of 10 days in winter are heavily polluted. There were days where the tops of apartment buildings couldn’t be seen because the pollution was so bad. Totobobo is the first mask I’ve used and I love it! I like that I can see the change in the filters as they collect the pollution. I wear it to and from work, about an hour each day and I change the filters twice a week. I decided to save my used filters from winter and take a photo of them when Spring started. It’s scary to see that all of that gunk could’ve been in my lungs if I didn’t have my Totobobo mask! The only downside to these plastic masks is the condensation that accumulates inside of it, but I will still use Totobobo despite that:)

Thank you Danni for the cool pic!

Singapore first “Petit” mask protects women and children from PM2.5

Children’s lungs are are more susceptive to the harmful effect of airborne particles call PM2.5. Air pollution can be a real concern for children staying in polluted cities such as Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, or Manila.

Singapore based Totobobo Pte. Ltd. introduced a new pollution mask specially designed for women and children. The new “Petit” mask (TT-02) comes with an innovative system to ensure a good face seal and protection.

Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system
Water Mark Seal Check of Totobobo UNIFit system

Quality of the face seal is essential for the effectiveness of protection against air pollution such as PM2.5. However, it is often overlooked due to lack of simple and accurate method to check the seal. A study of 1500 fit-tests of 10 popular models of N95 masks on 50 men and women by Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University in China, discovered that over 90% of the tests failed due to poor face seal. This suggests at consumer level, over 90% of the time, even a certified N95 mask may fail to provide the expected protection due to poor face seal.

Totobobo UNIFit system addresses the important issue of face seal with “Check & Seal” approach: 

1) An easy and accurate method to check the face seal, called “Watermark Seal Check”.

2) A “ReShape” feature which allows the user to shape the mask to close any gaps identified by the Watermark Seal Check.

3) A “Cut to size” feature which allows user to trim the mask to fit small children, in case ReShape alone is not sufficient to close the gaps.

“In addition to better fit and better protection, the UNIFit system also results in more comfortable wearing mask.” said the inventor Francis Chu, who has 20 years professional experience in product design.

Woman wearing Petit mask
Woman wearing the Petit mask. One can easily check the seal through the transparent mask.
A boy wearing Petit mask (customised to size)
A boy wearing Petit mask (trimmed to size)

Compares with the original Totobobo mask, the Petit is smaller, softer and more comfortable. Early Petit mask tester, Miss Hu Xiao Fei from Beijing China,  commented in Weibo:

“When I put on the new Petit mask, I was amazed! It fits so well all around my face, there is nothing I can say. I just love it!”

 

There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China
There is nothing I can say, it fits so well and seal my face all around! Miss Hu Xiao Fei (胡笑非), Beijing China

More information about the Petit mask can be found from the official website: totobobo.com, or contact us here.

Totobobo demo in Beijing and Shanghai

Swanport cafe in Soho Galaxy at Chaoyang, Beijing
Swanport cafe in Soho Galaxy at Chaoyang, Beijing
Muren of Totobobo Tmall share a presentation about PM2.5
Muren of Totobobo Tmall share a presentation about PM2.5
Francis shared his story about Totobobo mask
Francis shared his story about Totobobo mask, Robin from Totobobo Tmall is providing realtime translation

2014-09-16 Swanport Cafe, Chaoyang District, Beijing

The demo in Beijing was a great success on a Tuesday evening, thanks to Robin and Muren from Totobobo Beijing and the helpful staff from Swan Port Cafe. The session started off with a brief introduction of PM2.5 by Muren, he explained what PM2.5 is, and how it affects our health. Francis, the designer of Totobobo mask, shared how he came up with the idea of a customizable and reusable respirator mask out of the SARS crisis in 2003. The fit-test demo started after a short tea break.

What is “Fit-test”? Why it is important?

Fit-testing is a procedure to determine if a tight seal can be achieved when the user don a respirator mask. This is important because the quality of the seal affects the overall protection against PM2.5 and other airborne contamination. In fact, the NIOSH N95 standard requires a proper fit-test to be conducted before anyone starts using a respirator for the first time. During the fit-test, a particle counting instrument is used to accurately measure respirator fit by comparing the particle concentration in the surrounding air with the particle concentration inside the respirator. The ratio of these concentrations is called the Fit-factor (FF). For N95 mask, a minimum Fit-factor of 100 is required in order to pass the fit test.

Fit factor formular
Fit factor formular

TSI Portacount is the best fit-testing machine in the world. (US Army recently purchased 65 sets of the same TSI Portacount fit-tester http://itbriefing.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=571559)

The working principle of the PortaCount 8083 is straight forward: there are two flexible tubes coming out of the machine, one is to draw the air and measure the concentration of particles inside the mask. The second tube is open ended and is used to measure the particle concentration in the surrounding area. The PortaCount fit-tester calculates the particle concentration inside and outside of the mask and report the ratio, or the Fit-factor, in realtime. The higher the Fit-factor, the better is the protection effect of the mask. With the Portacount machine, Francis was able to demonstrate quantitatively how the quality of the seal and the filters can have a great impact on the protection effectiveness of a respirator.

Preparing for the test

Francis exchange ideas with the VIPs.
Francis exchange ideas with the VIPs.

Before the fit-test, a “Daily check” on the machine was performed to assure that the ambience air quality is suitable for the test and the machine is in proper operation condition. Amongst the audience, there were members from the China Consumer Association (中国消费者协会), National labor supplies Quality Supervision and Inspection Center (Beijing) 国家劳保用品质量监督检验中心(北京), Austria Embassy, TimeOut Beijing,  Aqicn.org and members of the public to monitor the entire process of the fit-test demo.

Fit test demo with PortaCount professional fit-tester

Faye testing Totobobo mask
Faye testing Totobobo mask
The perfect shape for Faye
The perfect shape for Faye
Fit-factor is only 3.3, the result of the cosmetic cotton pad is not convincing
Fit-factor is only 3.3, the result of the cosmetic cotton pad is not convincing

The first Fit-test of Totobobo mask was performed on Faye, a Chinese lady with a slender face shape. Francis first tested a pair of “fake filters” made of cosmetic cotton pad. The “fake filters” looks nearly the same as the original, but the resulting Fit-Factor is only 3.3 which means on a day with AQI 500, the cotton pad can ideally bring it down to 150, just not good enough. After changing into a pair of F96 filters, the Fit-factor shoot up to 150+. In AQI 500 day, ideally it can bring it down to 4-, better than the air you will get in Switzerland!

The Fit-factor shoot up to 150+ after changing into a pair of F96 filters
The Fit-factor shoot up to 150+ after changing into a pair of F96 filters

The second participant was a young girl (Guo Yao) with a fuller face. Francis first conduct the test with the same Totobobo mask without modification. The water-mark-method shown that the seal was not perfect and the initial result was relatively low (below 50). However, after Reshape the mask with a hair-dryer and after a good water-mark is obtained, the Fit-factor reported by the Portacount machine come up to 200+.

The perfect shape to fit  Guo Yao after ReShaping the mask
The perfect shape to fit Guo Yao after ReShaping the mask
Guo Yao received a new Totobobo mask from Sharon, Managing Director of Totobobo mask.
Guo Yao received a new Totobobo mask from Sharon, Managing Director of Totobobo mask.
Francis using the "Water-mark" method to predict the fitting of the mask
Francis using the “Water-mark” method to predict the fitting of the mask

Francis also demonstrated the effect of good and poor seal, by the “water mark method”. He applied a bit of water around the nose bridge area. When the matt color mask surface touching the wet skin, it changes to transparent (water-mark).

Barbara testing Totobobo mask
Barbara testing Totobobo mask

The third participant was Barbara Grosse from the Austria Embassy. It took Francis few rounds of ReShaping the mask in order to obtain a good water-mark seal. The final Fit-factor was also in the range of 150~200+. All three ladies passed with a clear margin from the minimum requirement of 100 (for N95 mask).

Fit-test demo based on only three users is obviously not statistically sound. However, we have done this nearly a hundred times privately and this is the first time we perform the fit-test in front of a public group.

After Beijing, we went to Shanghai ArtBike to conduct another fit-test demo with their customers. We came to similar observation as in Beijing.

Fit-test at ArtBike, Shanghai
Fit-test at ArtBike, Shanghai

 

Some interesting facts we can draw from all the fit-tests:

1. Totobobo mask can be ReShaped to fit a wide range of face shapes.

  • The same Totobobo mask was used through out the fitting on all three ladies, with significantly different face shapes and all managed to obtain high Fit-factors above 150.
  • Many more fit-tests on different users shows the ReShape function can be applied to a wide range of users.

2. The “Water mark” method is reliable to help ensure face fit and protection.

  • There was a strong correlation between the water-mark-method and the PortaCount results
  • When the water-mark method showed the seal was not perfect, the corresponding Fit-factor dropped  to below 50 and sometimes down to single digit value.
  • When a clear water mark was formed around the nose bridge and the face, the corresponding Fit-factor shot up to 150+

3. Overall protection against PM2.5 require good quality filter AND a good face-mask seal

  • When cosmetic cotton pad is used in place of the Totobobo filters, the Fit-factor dropped to only 3.3.
  • When the water-mark shows there is a leak between the mask and the face, the Fit-factor dropped to below 50 and sometime single digit.
  • The resulting Fit-factor is consistently good (150+) when Totobobo filter is used and the water mark result is positive.

Above points 1&2 are the strengths and the weaknesses of Totobobo mask, ReShape (and cutting) makes Totobobo mask the most versatile solution to fit a wide range of users, including children and adult. But ReShaping and cutting the mask is more complicated than bending a metal nose clip. With the “Water mark” fit-test method, you can be sure that when the water mark seal up your nose and mouth, the mask is giving you high level of protection. In contrary, ensuring face-seal is much more tricky for many popular masks on the market, as a detail research concluded by Tongji Medical College (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China) suggested: Fitting Characteristics of N95 Filtering-Facepiece Respirators Used Widely in China . 8 out of 10 popular mask can only fit less than 10% of the 54 Chinese test subjects.

On the other hand, these two features are the limiting factors for Totobobo mask to gain certification approval. It is confirmed that the current testing protocol does not allow  mask samples to be reshaped,  cut, or perform a water-mark check before the fit. These may well be the reasons why Totobobo mask did not perform well in the published review of 37 masks by Chinese Consumer Association earlier this year. Obtaining the certification is an important step for marketing purposes, but for now we put our focus on the practical protection that can be measured by the professional fit-testing machine (PortaCount 8083).

 

Related links:

Beijing TimeOut

Totobobo Fit-test demo on Weibo (1)

Totobobo Fit-test demo on Weibo (2)

Testing Totobobo mask with Portacount 8083 (video of entire process)

How to ReShape Totobobo mask?

 

Biking in Beijing + my pollution solution

thanks to the Totobobo Mask, it’s filters trap PM2.5, filter out 96% of unhealthy particles in the air, including pollution and viruses. I can actually smell fresh air when I inhale. I can bike. I can walk outside to buy groceries.

by Wilfred Chan from Beijing

I’m tired of moping over my pollution-induced hacking cough. I refuse to hide inside my apartment any longer. I have six more weeks here, and damn it, I am going to have fun, I am going to explore this city, and I am going to do it without getting lung cancer.

Besides, what am I so worried about, anyway? This city is full of rainbows:

braving an AQI of 220, fixie rider explore Beijing with unhealthy particles in the air, including pollution and viruses. I can actually smell fresh air when I inhale. I can bike. I can walk outside to buy groceries.
Braving an AQI of 220, with the mask on, I can bike. I can walk outside to buy groceries.

The good news is that I’ve found a way to save my trip, thanks to the Totobobo Mask I bought yesterday for 180 yuan. It has two filters that trap microns down to 0.3 microns in diameter, and filter out 92-96% of unhealthy particles in the air, including pollution and viruses. I can actually smell fresh air when I inhale. I can bike. I can walk outside to buy groceries. And I may look like a post-apocalyptic piglet when I’m wearing it, but I don’t care, because I feel like a functioning human being again!

So, I kind of apologize for the complaining last time. I may have to wear a freaky mask now, but I am going to give this city another chance.

Today, with mask firmly attached, I went out with Juanes for a 20-mile ride (complete route here), braving an AQI of 220* with very high PM2.5 in the air.

An air quality index of 220 is considered Moderately Polluted according to the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, which I like to think of as humans should probably fucking stay indoors.

I will show you a picture of what my mask looked like AFTER the ride. The left side is a new set of filters. The right side is my mask, after three hours of biking.

Totobobo filter after three hours of riding in AQI200 Beijing air
Totobobo filter after three hours of riding in AQI200 Beijing air

Yep! I’m never taking this thing off again.

More user stories:
Totobobo filter after one month cycling in London
Bert Leatherman review Totobobo mask
Scrollsaw workshop review by Steve

Totobobo mask for Heyrobics

Heyrobics in Beijing, China  - the active expert

Are you Heyrobic members? Check this out if you are in Beijing.

Finally! A way to dodge the pollution and keep sweating outdoors when Hey-ing, biking, running and well, jumping around in general! Weve got masks! Heres some info about our favorite clean air mask! They’re recommended by local health expert Dr Richard Saint Cyr (see our blog for details).

The unique features of all Totobobo masks are designed to provide maximum protection, comfort and ease of use to everyone, including children. Totobobo is the worldss first customizable mask and it filters out 94% of the pollution! The mask is one of the best anti-pollution masks you can find in Beijing- also it is quite difficult to get a hold off! For more information about the Totobobo mask, check out www.heyrobics.com/cleanair!

They even have a special offer for members:
Check it out here: http://heyrobics.com/cleanair/

“PM2.5” Theme of the MIDI MUSIC FESTIVAL IN BEIJING

MIDI MUSIC FESTIVAL IN BEIJING : Haidian Park, Beijing / Dates: April 29th – May 1st 2012

Beijing Midi Music Festival Poster , Designer Zhu Wei

Midi Music Festival is regarded as the Woodstock of China. It is Chinas largest rock music festival, which also started as the first music festival in China. With tens of bands at home and abroad volunteering to perform at Midi, it attracts tens of thousands of young people all over the country. Many travel long distances by train just to catch the annual feast for ears.

The theme this year is “PM 2.5,” focusing attention on a growing environmental problem in China. PM 2.5, also called “fine particles,” is an air pollutant with less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Avant-guarde artist Zhu Wei designed this year’s poster, describing a future scene where all people care about environment. Zhu Wei also designed the poster for 2006 Midi Music Festival, as well as directing the music video for Miserable Faith’s famous song, “Bloom.”

Source: International Beijing Foreign Studies University

My Health In Beijing (myhealthbeijing.com) recommended Totobobo mask to block PM2.5

Air pollution in Beijing

Smog in Beijing
Image Courtesy Bobak/Wikipedia

A surge of orders from Beijing over the last couple of days caught our attention. According to the customers, some from different Embassies there, the air quality in Beijing is the worst they have seen at this moment.

The Independent from UK posted “Index of air quality in the world’s major cities” which compiled data from AirNow, CITEAIR, and the American Embassy in Beijing. It confirmed that the Beijing air is the worst at the moment compared to cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and New Delhi.

Particulate pollution, rising temperatures and a lack of wind caused the stifling smog, which reduced visibility in parts of the city to just 200 metres (yards), the Beijing weather bureau said in a report.

The American embassy in Beijing rated it as “Hazardous” on the 21st of February. Traveler going to Beijing is strongly advised to carry a good mask (seal your face).
Hopefully the situation will be improved when the wind starts to blow later this week.

Pollution Masks: Which Are Best?

BY DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR, ON SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2010

My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr
My Health in Beijing by medical blogger Dr. Richard Saint Cyr

Real World Testing

I tried it around town for a bit, and the overall comfort is good. It definitely is less awkward-looking than the typical N95 with exhalation valves. I was pleasantly surprised with the seal and that my glasses didnt fog up, although I got those mask lines on my face that other masks also cause. Its relatively easy to keep on, with straps either behind the ear or behind the head (which always provides a closer fit).

I didnt do any fancy technical testing with it, but on a bad, smelly day I put on the mask and instantly could no longer smell that pollution.

Also, there are a few other real-world advantages:

Its not totally uncool-looking
Its reusable and washable, and its easy to carry in a pouch (provided by them)
There are kids sizes
You can quickly cut the mask to fit better
The masks and filter refills are very reasonably priced

My Bottom Line

Totobobo didnt pay me anything, and I get no income from them for this mention. Im simply trying to find well-researched options to protect myself and anyone else from Beijings air pollution, and Id be more than happy to review other masks as well and to publish the results. Last year I tried to find good studies on other brands, including Respro, but I found no well-designed studies on other masks. Does anyone have such information?

I think Totobobo is a good and affordable option for people. And a 135-fold drop in pollution is very impressive; even on an emergency day with the AQI over 500, the mask would bring your air to WHO-safe levels.

Member of Medical code of conduct
DR. RICHARD SAINT CYR is a member of "Medical code of conduct"

Face mask may reduce heart attack in polluted air

A research published on 13-3-2009 in the Particle and Fibre Toxicology indicates that wearing a respirator may reduce the risk of heart attack.

“This simple intervention has the potential to protect susceptible individuals and prevent cardiovascular events in cities with high concentrations of ambient air pollution.” stated in the website.

The research study:

The research was led by Dr. Jeremy Lingguish of the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, Edinburgh University. The team consist of experts from Centre for Environmental Health (The Netherlands), Institute of Occupational Medicine (UK) and Fuwai Hospital in Beijing, China.

The randomised controlled study involves 15 volunteers walked on a predefined city route in Beijing. The subject exposed to ambient air pollution and exercise was assessed continuously using portable real-time monitors and global positional system tracking respectively. Cardiovascular effects were assessed by continuous 12-lead electrocardiographic and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

Walking test route in Beijing

Walking test route in Beijing

The mask-wearing group result might have been affected due to poor mask-to-face fit. Despite this, the mask-wearing group demonstrated least affected by exposure to air pollution.

Current status:

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution is known to associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity, but it is not clear how this happens.

In another experiment, Magnus Lundb ck et. al developed a simple non-invasive method of assessing arterial stiffness and apply the method to demonstrate exposure to unnoticeable among of diesel exhaust can indeed increase arterial stiffness. This is possibly the best way to explain the link between air pollution and heart attack.

The team from Sweden and UK discovered that men exposed to small, unnoticeable concentration of diesel exhaust (350 ug/m3) increased the augmentation pressure by 3 mmHg and augmentation index by 8 %- indicating an increase in arterial stiffness. In a patient with established hypertension or coronary artery disease, small changes in central aortic pressure may be sufficient to trigger an acute cardiovascular event (e.g. heart attack, or stroke)

A point to note is PM concentrations can regularly reach levels of 300 ug/m3 and above in heavy traffic, occupational settings, and in the world’s largest cities.

 

Related article:

WHO: Health impact of air pollution

Pollution mask helps cycling in air polluted cities