Anyone use a particulate mask for commute?

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  • Anyone use a particulate mask for commute?
  • rsl1

    This morning I could practically chew the fumes as I cycled past the 4km queue of traffic from yet another set of roadworks. Our town regularly registers top spot for worst air quality in the UK and it’s really starting to worry me that I’m biking in this every day. I’ve been thinking of getting a mask but somehow this feels like a big step.

    Anyone wear one? Any tips on good long lasting comfortable options?


    it will do very little I think. The amount of air you need compared to the filtration available in these masks does not match.

    I remember reading about these masks a while ago and the conclusion was that they make close to zero difference.

    Premier Icon tthew

    For fumes and tiny particles like that you’d need a positive displacement, filtered mask which has a little fan in that draws air through a filter and blows it out over your face. Hardly a practical proposition for cycling and expensive. Better to try and find a quieter route as the worst traffic pollution tends to be very localised.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit

    It doesn’t help your immediate problem, but it might be interesting to monitor pollution levels.

    Monitor air quality with a Raspberry Pi

    You can get battery packs for a raspberry pi, so I guess you could just strap it to a bike rack. It looks quite straightforward.

    Different route? sorry!

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    As others have said, to work effectively at the level of pollutants that cause the real problems you need more than just a posh dust mask.

    But you can change your route, particulates, NOx etc are a very local problem to cars and other sources. I.e. cycling past 4km of stationary traffic might be really bad, cycling through a town in general is just bad.

    IIRC it’s actually worse inside the cars, so you’re still better off cycling.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash

    I still struggle to get my head round how it is worse inside the car rather outside, but that’s science!

    I felt a whole lot better changing my route – can do a direct road route of 11 miles, or a 12 mile route with more than half away from the roads on towpaths and cyclepaths, which is actually quicker as it’s flatter. And far less stressful.

    I can also do a 19 mile route that is entirely off road on towpaths and riverside cycle paths, but that’s a treat for summer evenings


    Nope, can’t get on with them when I am cycling, mainly because they are either too restrictive when I am blowing out of my arse up a hill, or because I keep fogging up my glasses when I am stopped. Hell, it’s bad enough with just sweat fogging my glasses when I am stopped.


    Interesting I didn’t realise they were so ineffective. Re-routing is a reasonable point I can add maybe 1km on through a golf course to bypass 1km of traffic but I have no choice but to go direct across town centre somehow as all roads lead there.

    I’ve actually taken my buff off this week as it’s so warm and I think that does make a difference to how much I notice the fumes even if it doesn’t change how much I breathe in. Don’t wear glasses so that’s not a problem


    Raspberry pi comment is interesting. Part of the reason that we record such high levels compared to rest of UK is that the sensor is located under a railway bridge on a busy bus route, so maybe the town as a whole isn’t so bad

    Premier Icon sirromj

    This from CES2020… Atmos Faceware…


    I still struggle to get my head round how it is worse inside the car rather outside, but that’s science!

    Two reasons:

    1. most car air intakes are low down in the front grille, very close to the exhaust height of the car in front, ie you couldn’t design a better way of sucking in PM10s if you tried

    2. they tend to stay in the cabin once they’ve got in and don’t get expelled, so you build up a higher concentration than outside

    3. Car pollen filters don’t touch NOx or PM10s, they just sail straight in

    Contrast with cycling where your air intake in higher up and the PM10s etc get dispersed by wind etc.

    Once you’ve spent any time looking at respiratory protection in an occupational exposure environment, you realise these things are little more than window dressing.

    Much better to change your route away from main roads. The evidence shows marked improvements in air quality surprisingly quickly as you move away from them.


    I asked this a long while ago when I was commuting in Hong Kong. I tried a few of the available masks, unfortunately they are just useless.
    There must be a feasible market for them but I’ve not found one.
    Frustrating I know

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