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Sometimes you need to find answers to your questions quickly. In the Tech pages that follow we have tried to answer some of the more common questions we have been asked over the past 20 years of trading. If there is anything you require that is not on these pages then please ask a question here and we will respond as soon as is humanly possible.

Pollution

Here’s how the land lies!

Pollution is made of two distinct categories:

  1. Gases and Vapours
  2. Particulates

Most types of pollution can be put into one or other category.

1. Gases & Vapours:

  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Low level Ozone
  • Hydrocarbon Chemicals

These pollutants all require an activated carbon filter media to absorb them.

2. Particulates:

  • Asbestos dust from brake linings
  • Pollen
  • Road dust
  • Black smoke from diesel emissions
  • Any other material which is solid in nature

There are two categories of particulates:

Inhalable and respirable
  • Inhalable particulates: are the particles big enough to be trapped within the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes at the back of the throat.
  • Respirable particulates: are the particles that pass beyond the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes of the throat and pass into the lung sacs and subsequent blood barrier. These particulates can carry carcinogenic chemicals used in petrol (benzene, pyrene, etc) to the blood barrier.

So there you have it in a nutshell.

What can you do about it? - get a mask.

 

Masks

In order to consider the effectiveness of a mask, the following points must be taken into consideration

  1. How well does the product seal?
  2. How effective is the filter material?

In order for any mask to perform to its maximum it must be able to seal properly around the nose and mouth so that as much of the air that is being inhaled, is actually passing through the filter. If it is not passing through the filter then, no matter how effective the filter is, the user will still be inhaling unfiltered air.

Sealing

All our masks apart from the Bandit™ scarf and the Allergy™ mask are made from Neoprene. Being resiliently stretchable it allows the masks to conform easily to varying facial features, sealing around the face, thus a good seal and a comfortable fit.

Another consideration in the sealing is sizing. As the range of sizes within adult population varies to such an extent, one size cannot fit all people. We have introduced two sizes to comfortably accommodate 90% of the adult populations: medium and large. For an adult female of average height/weight, we would recommend the medium size. Likewise for an adult male of average height/weight, we would recommend the large size. By choosing the correct size and following the fitting instructions you can be assured that an effective seal can be attained.

As the Neoprene mask will stretch between the nose and cheekbone, a negative cavity will exist. This gap, if not closed up, will allow polluted air to pass through this region unfiltered, consequently reducing the mask’s overall efficiency. To effect a good seal in this region, all our masks use a fully annealed aluminium nose clip which can be formed to the individual facial shape of the wearer.

Each mask contains a replaceable filter specific to either an urban or countryside environment. Depending on the environment that you are active in, you will need to assess the type of filter that is required. Essentially the City™ filter is designed for use in the urban environment and the Sportsta™ filter is used for country environments where much higher levels of particulate material can be encountered. To assess the correct filter for your environment the following chart highlights the main atmospheric pollutants and indicates the appropriate filter that should be used.

Filters

The filter materials used in Respro® masks were primarily developed for use in military applications requiring excellent filtration properties yet at the same time requiring an air flow efficiency that would not impede the user’s activity.

Respro® use the same filter materials in their masks to accommodate the filtration of a wide spectrum of pollutants that are found in the urban, country and home environments.

Each mask has a complimentary filter type for individual activities and Respro® have designed the filters so that they are also interchangeable within other Respro® masks allowing customisation for more specific applications.

Respro® filters are also of benefit for people who suffer from breathing difficulties having either particle or chemical sensitive respiratory systems. However, it is always prudent to take advice from your doctor if you are considering adding a mask to your health improvement programme.

As well as consumer applications the The Respro® FB-1, Techno and Sportsta masks conform to the technical specifications of European Standard EN149 FFP1 for particulate material including water based aerosols and the EV and S-3V masks conform to EN149 FFP1, 2 & 3 for particulate material.

The filter lifespan is based on the characteristics of the active urban cyclist.

  • Half hour journey to work and half hour back
  • A breathing rate of 30 litres of air per minute
  • Pollution levels where the WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines recommend that the average citizen should wear some form of respiratory protection.

On this basis we recommend that the filter be changed every 69 hours of use in the environment.

The Sportsta™, the Cinqro™, Ultralight™ & Techno™ masks are available in three sizes, medium and large and X-large. They also have equivalent sized filters. It is important to identify the correct size filter replacement for your mask in order to ensure comfort and efficiency. The size can be found by looking at the back of the mask (for masks manufactured after April 1999), which will indicate its size. Respro® have also introduced the Techno™ Gold Upgrade Kit, so that a City™ or Sportsta™ mask already purchased, may be upgraded in filtration performance.

Filter replacement for any mask is carried out by removing the filter and valve assembly (where applicable) from the Neoprene mask. This is readily effected by pushing the valves through the holes where they are situated in the mask. This procedure will release the valve and filter assembly in one unit. The valves should then be dis-assembled from the filter and the filter discarded thoughtfully. To re-assemble the product with a new filter, reversal of the procedures should be carried out.

Valves

In order to have good breathability in a mask, especially when undergoing exercise or other activities involving physical exertion, it is essential that the mask breathes freely and does not create either a pressure drop or back pressure. Heat, carbon dioxide and water vapour, three components of exhaled breath, need to be exhausted from the mask in readiness for the next breath of inhaled air. If this process of evacuation fails or is impeded, then the mask may become uncomfortable with poor airflow and may result in the wearer not using the mask.

We therefore believe that exhalation valves are an essential component which allows the mask to perform well under the conditions described above.

The valves in Respro® masks are designed to reduce or eradicate any of the above effects and are available in accessory packs, allowing the user to tailor a product specifically to their own needs.

Rarely do the valves require replacement.

Filtration: The DACC Story

The material we use for chemical filtration (DACC) and present in most Respro® masks (Cinqro, City, Techno, Metro) was first produced by the UK Defence Establishment back in 1980s for the protection of troops under the threat of nuclear chemical and biological warfare. Since then a number of licenses have been provided to business, including our filter manufacturer, for the production of the material for Industrial applications.  In order to provide a realistic program for industrial applications the material was tested using a number of different agents. This list can be read below.

Each agent has been tested for uptake and recorded. The list has been compiled into a useable one that allows the material to be sold with credibility for industrial applications to do with both air and water filtration.

Respro (UK) Ltd use this material for filtering chemicals that are found in the urban environment that are known as Primary Pollutants and the result of vehicle combustion. These chemicals include Nitrogen Oxides including NO and NO2, Sulphur Dioxide, A wide range of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s - additives in fuels) and Low Level Ozone (LLO). All these have been used in tests with DACC and rated according to their affinity to be adsorbed.

KEY TO FILTRATION PROPERTIES

E = EXCELLENT
G = GOOD
M = MODERATE
P = POOR

ALIPHATIC HYDROCARBONS

  • Acetylene -G
  • Butane (Iso-Butane) -E
  • Butylene -E
  • Butadiene -G
  • Cyclohexane -E
  • Decane -M
  • Ethane -G
  • Ethylene -M
  • Heptane -E
  • Heptylene -G
  • Hexane -E
  • Hexylene -G
  • Methane -M
  • Nonane -G
  • Octane -G
  • Octylene -E
  • Pentane -G
  • Propane -M
  • Propylene -G

AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS

  • Benzene (Respro® filter) -E
  • Napthalene -E
  • Styrene Monomer -E
  • Toluene -E
  • Toluidine -E

ESTERS

  • Butyl Acetate -E
  • Cellosolve Acetate -E
  • Ethyl Acrylate -E
  • Ethyl Formate -G
  • Isopropyl Acetate -E
  • Methyl Acetate -G
  • Methyl Acrylate -E
  • Methyl Formate -G
  • Propyl Acetate -E

ALDEHYDES & KETONES

  • Acetone -G
  • Acetaldehyde -G
  • Acrolein -G
  • Acrylaldehyde -G
  • Benzaldehyde -E
  • Crontonaldehyde
  • Cyclohexanone -E
  • Diethyl Ketone -E
  • Dipropyl Ketone -E
  • Formaldehyde -M
  • Methyl Butylketone -E
  • Methyl Ethylketone -G
  • Valeric Aldehyde -E

ACIDS

  • Acetic -G
  • Acetic Anhydride -E
  • Acrylic -E
  • Butyric -E
  • Carbolic -E
  • Formic -G
  • Lactic -E
  • Palmitic -E
  • Phenol -E
  • Propionic -E

ALCOHOLS

  • Ethyl -G
  • Anyl -E
  • Butyl -E
  • Cyclohexanol -E
  • Isopropyl -E
  • Methanol (Methyl) -M
  • Propyl -E

SULPHUR COMPOUNDS

  • Carbon disulphide -G
  • Dimethyl Sulphate -G
  • Ethyl mercaptan -E
  • Hydrogen sulphide -M
  • Methyl mercaptan -E
  • Propyl mercaptan -E
  • Sulphur Dioxide (Respro® filter) -E
  • Sulphur trioxide -M
  • Sulphuric Acid -M

NITROGEN COMPOUNDS

  • Ammonia -M
  • Aniline -E
  • Diethyl Amine -G
  • Diethyl Aniline -G
  • Dimethyl Amine -E
  • Ethyl Amine -G
  • Nicotine -E
  • Nitric acid -G
  • Nitrobenzene -E
  • Nitroethane -E
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (Respro® filter) -E
  • Nitroglycerine -E
  • Nitromethane -G
  • Nitropropane -E
  • Nitrotoluene -E
  • Urea -E
  • Uric Acid -E

ETHERS

  • Amyl -E
  • Butyl -E
  • Cellosolve -E
  • Dioxan -E
  • Ethyl -G
  • Ethylene Oxide -M
  • Isopropyl -E
  • Methyl Cellosolve -E
  • Methyl -G
  • Propyl -E

HALOGENATED HYDROCARBONS

  • Butyl Chloride -E
  • Carbon Tetrachloride -G
  • Chlorine -M
  • Chlorobenzene -E
  • Chlorobutadiene -E
  • Chloroform -E
  • Chloro nitropropane -E
  • Chloropicrin -E
  • Dibromoethane -E
  • Dichlorobenzene -E
  • Bromine -G
  • Dichlorodifluoro Methane -M
  • Dichlorodifluoro Ethane -G
  • Dichlorethane -E
  • Dichloroethylene -E
  • Dichloroethyl ether -E
  • Dichloromethane -M
  • Dichloromonofluoro Methane -M
  • Dichloropropane -G
  • Dichlorotetrafluoro ethane -M
  • Ethyl bromide -G
  • Ethyl Chloride -G
  • Ethylene chlorohydrin -G
  • Ethylene dichloride -G
  • Fluorotrichloromethane -M
  • Freon -M
  • Hydrogen bromide -M
  • Hydrogen chloride -M
  • Hydrogen Cyanide -M
  • Hydroxen Fluoride -M
  • Hydrogen iodide -M
  • Iodine -E
  • Methyl bromide -E
  • Methyl chloride -E
  • Methyl chloroform -E
  • Methylene chloride -E
  • Monochlorobenzene -E
  • Paradichlorobenzene -E
  • Perchloroethylene -G

HALOGENATED HYDROCARBONS

  • Propyl chloride -G
  • Tetrachloro ethane -G
  • Tetrachloro ethylene -G
  • Trichloro ethylene -G
  • Vinyl chloride -G

The list is not exhaustive and other chemicals may well be adsorbed by DACC but have yet to be tested.

Filtration: Particulate Matter

PM stands for Particulate Matter. It is the term for particles found in the air including dust, dirt, soot and smoke.  These particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.

Particulate Matter comes in a wide range of sizes, measured in micrometres or ‘microns’. Like inches, metres and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance, a very small distance. There are 1000 microns in one millimetre and about the same width of as a hair on your head.

Particulates that are 50+ microns in diameter can be seen by the naked eye, but as they get smaller they tend to invisibility. (The Invisible Threat)

Particulates less than 10 microns in diameter (less than PM10) start to pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into the back of the throat region causing irritation and coughing.

Particulates less than 2.5 microns in diameter (less thanPM2.5) which include sub micron particulates (less than PM1) are referred to as fine or ‘respirable’  particulates and are believed to pose the greatest health risk.
Because of their size, the normal human filtering system, the nose and its nasal hair, are unable to trap these fine particulates. They pass through the upper airways and deep into the fine capillaries and air sacs which is where the oxygen exchange occurs to oxygenate the blood.

Current concerns are that very small amounts of toxic or carcinogenic chemicals like the VOC Pyrene, are carried on the particle and taken to the point of exchange, which allows for the potential of the chemical to be absorbed into the blood stream.

A typical sample of black smoke emitted from one of the more popular people carrying vehicles, would include particulates from 100 microns in size to particulates less than one micron in size. The sizing variation comes from the type of fuel and how efficiently it is being burnt.

Short term health effects are eye, nose throat and chest irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.

Constant exposure to fine particles will also affect lung function, worsen medical conditions in existence such as asthma and heart disease, or increase the risk of acute respiratory disorders.

People who exercise or are consistently being exposed to environments where the PM reading is high, really should consider appropriate precautions such as wearing a mask with a ‘Hepa-type Filter’ which removes sub-micron and all micron sized particulates.

People who cycle for an average of 30 minutes to work, at a brisk pace, are likely to breathe approximately 1800 litres of air in that journey.  Due to poor air quality, the air will have a percentage of particulates that you cannot help but breathe in.

In considering the 1800 litres of air inhaled over the journey, the particulates in this large volume of air, will stick to the lining of the upper and lower respiratory tract like flies on a Vapona strip. The lungs now have to work to remove these particulate contaminants and they have to do this twice a day for two thirds of a year.

Is there any wonder why people are looking to use masks to protect themselves?

Particulate types:

  • Asbestos dust from brake linings
  • Pollen
  • Road dust
  • Black smoke from diesel emissions
  • Any other material which is solid in nature

Particulate Types:

Inhalable and Respirable.

Inhalable particulates: particles big enough to be trapped within the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes at the back of the throat.

Respirable particulates: are the particles that pass beyond the nasal hairs and the mucous membranes of the throat and pass into the lung sacs and subsequent blood barrier. These particulates can carry carcinogenic chemicals used in petrol (benzene, pyrene, etc) to the blood barrier.

These all require an activated Hepa-Type filter media to trap these pollutants. (Techno, Sportsta, Aero, FB-1)

As a point of reference Carbon Monoxide cannot be filtered out of the air under normal circumstances by charcoal or anything else. It requires an elevated temperature to convert it, unfortunately that temperature is not within the human scale.

Filter Types:

We offer several types of filter all of which are interchangeable within the range of masks providing they are the same size.

  1. Sports filter  - for sub-micron particle filtration (Respirable dusts <PM1) and highest airflow rate. (Sportsta mask standard issue)
  2. City filter - for micron particle filtration (inhaleable dusts PM10) and Organic vapour uptake. (City Mask/ Nightsite mask standard issue)
  3. Techno filter - for sub-micron particle filtration (Respirable dusts <PM1) and Organic gas/vapour uptake. (Techno mask standard issue)
  4. Allergy Particle - for sub-micron particle filtration (Respirable dusts <PM1)  (Allergy mask standard issue)
  5. Allergy Particle/Chemical filter - for sub-micron particle filtration (Respirable dusts <PM1) and Chemical gas/vapour uptake. (Allergy mask)

PM10: = ABOVE 10 MICRONS IN AERODYNAMIC DIAMETER SIZE

PM1: = ABOVE 1 MICRONS IN AERODYNAMIC DIAMETER SIZE AND BELOW 10 MICRONS

SUB MICRON:  = LESS THAN 1 MICRON IN SIZE

For any further information please contact technical@respro.com.