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I have been struggling to get one of these neoprene cycling masks to work given my (light) asthma and was wondering how everyone else finds them and whether anyone has any suggestions of masks that they would recommed. I cycle about 30 minutes two twice a day in Central London and have really noticed the impact on my lungs.  I have put one of these survey monkey together as I'd love to hear other 'urban cyclists' thoughts as to what is good and how they could be improved etc. Many thanks all

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7DPXD2S

 

8 comments

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londoncommute [107 posts] 12 months ago
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I'd love a bit more choice.  Respro seem to be the only option.  What else is out there and how do they compare?

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Jack Osbourne snr [682 posts] 12 months ago
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Were there not a few studies done several years ago that concluded that even using a new filter every day that face masks were actually counter productive?

Having had a very quick scan of recent articles it seems the jury is still out. I can't find the evidence actually against wearing masks, but the benefits in all but the most polluted atmospheres seem to be limited.

Things to consider:

  • to effectively filter out combustion particulates emitted in exhast fumes you need masks which conform to FFP3 (the same grade as masks used around asbestos)
  • FFP3 masks restrict airflow enough to have a significant impact at higher work rates
  • FFP3 masks are significantly more expensive than other grades and you can easily pay 4 or 5 pounds for a disposible mask (which should not be used for more than one day)
  • Filter media masks of any grade dont remove CO2, NO2 or NO

Commuting through Glasgow, I don't wear one, but if I were elsewhere I may consider a cheap "surgical" mask to capture at least some of the particluate crud. You won't catch more than 80% o crud with one of them though...

 

 

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TypeVertigo [421 posts] 11 months ago
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I can point you to this article from Quartz:

https://qz.com/686131/how-long-you-can-cycle-before-the-harm-from-pollut...

It's one of the most interesting reads I've seen on the subject of pollution vs. bike commuting. The premise is that based on the amount of particulates measured in each city, there is a "tipping point" of exercise duration in minutes per day, beyond which the pollution negates any benefit to exercising (including bike commuting) in that given city.

If this article is to be believed, London is actually pretty high up there, with a tipping point of 855 minutes per day at 15 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 (a type of fine particulate matter).

Where I live, just outside Manila, our tipping point is at 480 minutes per day, at 17 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5.

(And yes, I am not British, as my spelling has probably given away. I'm just a longtime fan of road.cc.)

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Philip ML [3 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
londoncommute wrote:

I'd love a bit more choice.  Respro seem to be the only option.  What else is out there and how do they compare?

 

 

Thanks for the comment. Respro seems to have cornered the market - I haven't come across any cyclist in London that uses any other make. There are two other makes that have good reviews but these are designed for pedestrians.  If I come across some masks in the US or APAC I will let you know. 

Avatar
Philip ML [3 posts] 11 months ago
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Jack Osbourne snr wrote:

Were there not a few studies done several years ago that concluded that even using a new filter every day that face masks were actually counter productive?

Having had a very quick scan of recent articles it seems the jury is still out. I can't find the evidence actually against wearing masks, but the benefits in all but the most polluted atmospheres seem to be limited.

Things to consider:

  • to effectively filter out combustion particulates emitted in exhast fumes you need masks which conform to FFP3 (the same grade as masks used around asbestos)
  • FFP3 masks restrict airflow enough to have a significant impact at higher work rates
  • FFP3 masks are significantly more expensive than other grades and you can easily pay 4 or 5 pounds for a disposible mask (which should not be used for more than one day)
  • Filter media masks of any grade dont remove CO2, NO2 or NO

Commuting through Glasgow, I don't wear one, but if I were elsewhere I may consider a cheap "surgical" mask to capture at least some of the particluate crud. You won't catch more than 80% o crud with one of them though...

 

 

 

 

Agreed - it appears that the jury is still out on the effectiveness of masks - that said I definitely believe (from personal experience) that a mask is better than no mask. If anyone comes across some research on this topic I would love to see a link? Even working out which particles need stopping seems contentious. 

Thanks for the FFP3 thought. I haven't seen any comments from the 3 manufacturers I have considered mentioned this grade.

 

 

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Philip ML [3 posts] 11 months ago
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TypeVertigo wrote:

I can point you to this article from Quartz:

https://qz.com/686131/how-long-you-can-cycle-before-the-harm-from-pollut...

It's one of the most interesting reads I've seen on the subject of pollution vs. bike commuting. The premise is that based on the amount of particulates measured in each city, there is a "tipping point" of exercise duration in minutes per day, beyond which the pollution negates any benefit to exercising (including bike commuting) in that given city.

If this article is to be believed, London is actually pretty high up there, with a tipping point of 855 minutes per day at 15 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 (a type of fine particulate matter).

Where I live, just outside Manila, our tipping point is at 480 minutes per day, at 17 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5.

(And yes, I am not British, as my spelling has probably given away. I'm just a longtime fan of road.cc.)

 

really useful link - thank you. The original research behind this article is available on the web. I can send you the link if you are interested - otherwise simply google the authors name and the report pops up. It is interesting to see that Cambridge University and the University of East Anglia are beginning to write about the impact of pollutants on cyclists.

Aside I stopped cycling in central London for 12 months but have now re-commenced. I definitely think the health benefits from cycling outweigh the negative impact of pollutants BUT the balance could definitely swing further.

 

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Uni_student [2 posts] 2 months ago
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Hello! I'm a final year design student at university, for my final year project I'm investigating city air pollution and designing a protective solution for commuters. It would be great if you could spare a bit of time, your knowledge and experiences with your commute and opinions on current wearables and pollution masks available.

If you wouldn't mind filling out a very quick questionnaire it would help my degree massively: https://goo.gl/forms/1Alm2ZDTY5gnz1RD2

Thank you and kind regards.

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hawkinspeter [1212 posts] 2 months ago
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Uni_student wrote:

Hello! I'm a final year design student at university, for my final year project I'm investigating city air pollution and designing a protective solution for commuters. It would be great if you could spare a bit of time, your knowledge and experiences with your commute and opinions on current wearables and pollution masks available.

If you wouldn't mind filling out a very quick questionnaire it would help my degree massively: https://goo.gl/forms/1Alm2ZDTY5gnz1RD2

Thank you and kind regards.

I filled in your questionnaire, but I think it's missing an important point: I don't wear a filter mask as cycling with any sustained effort makes masks really sweaty and uncomfortable as well as making breathing difficult.

Air pollution masks would be far more effective if pedestrians and car drivers wore them - they aren't typically breathing hard.