With the air quality deteriorating in Delhi due to excessive pollution, kids are now more at risk of falling sick than adults since they comparatively breathe faster. Cases of infants in Delhi NCR suffering from respiratory issues are also being reported. Parents must, therefore, adopt every measure to protect their kids from air pollution.
The best way to ensure kids’ safety is by making them stay indoors as far as possible. But if kids are going out, they must wear anti-pollution masks. While there are several kinds of masks available in the market, parents should make sure they buy just the right one for their kids. And how do you ensure that? Here’s what paediatrician Dr Charu Kalra told Express Parenting about things to consider before buying an anti-pollution mask for kids.
Which is the right anti-pollution mask for kids?
Kids should not step outside without wearing an anti-pollution mask, even if they are travelling in a car with windows shut, advised Dr Kalra.
The best masks to buy for kids are P-rated masks (P95, P99 or P100 masks), which provide protection against not just particulate matter but also oil-based pollutants like gasoline, diesel, and so on. These masks, however, are quite expensive and not very easily available.
The alternative then are N-rated masks (N95, N99 and N100), that are not oil-resistant but provide protection from particulate matter. In case of N95 masks, it’s efficacy is 95 per cent, 99 per cent in case of N99 and 100 per cent in case of N100.
Doctors usually recommend N99 or N100 masks for better protection. These masks can protect your kids from particulate matter as small as PM 2.5, which is one of the important causes of asthma and bronchitis that are affecting kids these days.
There is another new variety of anti-pollution masks called Cambridge mask in the N category that you can buy for kids. They are three-filter masks that provide protection from particulate matter, virus and bacteria. These masks are normally available in cotton, making them skin-friendly and suitable for kids, although they are a little expensive.
How to make sure you choose the right mask
Here are some tips parents need to keep in mind:
1. When you are buying a mask, make sure there is a special valve or channel in it to take the exhaled air out.
2. It is equally important to ensure you buy the right mask size for your child. The bridge of the nose should get support from the mask. The nose, mouth and chin should all be adequately covered but not over-cover the kid’s face. Check the mask for air leaks to make sure you have bought the correct size.
Safety tips for using anti-pollution masks
1. The mask for one child should not be shared with another. Similarly, adults and kids should not exchange them. So, when you give a mask to your child, mark their name on it so that only they use it.
2. The mask should be changed in at least three to four days, in case of N99 or N100 masks. If kids are using N95, the mask should be changed every 72 hours. Cambridge masks can be washed in lukewarm water and reused.
3. Although not many cases of allergy have been reported, it is always advisable to use a moisturising lotion before using a mask to prevent any reaction since they are mostly made of synthetic material.