Which are the best masks for china’s air pollution?

In this article, we discuss the various types of masks that are good for protecting you from air pollution and other airborne infections if you are visiting China.

Which are the best masks for china air pollution?

The following masks are helpful to protect you from air pollution if you are planning to visit China:

  • 3M™ N95 Respirators
  • 3M™ Aura™ Particulate Respirators
  • Totobobo™ Hightech Anti-Pollution Masks
  • Respro® Pollution Masks
  • Cambridge Masks Co
  • Craft Cadence Nanofiber mask
  • Vogmask™ N99 CV (Carbon Layer / Exhaust Valve)

Why do we need to worry about air pollution?

In the current scenario, where air pollution is prevalent and worsening with each passing day, especially in urban areas, air purifiers are very vital.

Air pollution is the presence of undesired substances in the form of solids, liquids, or gases, which are suspended in the ambient air, and can adversely affect human health.

These pollutants can be harmful as they can also be present in the indoor environment. 

The average human being spends more than 90% of their total lives in an indoor environment, with more than 80% of it inside a building.

Indoor air, just like outdoor air, is susceptible to pollution. Indoor air can get polluted when pollution from outdoors infiltrates through openings such as doors, windows, cracks, seeps, etc.

The pollutants generated from these sources have been shown to adversely affect human health, and continuous exposure to elevated concentrations can cause many serious issues, such as cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, and even death.

Furthermore, in developing countries, the regulation of air pollution is not as strict as those in developed countries. 

Therefore, in urban areas of countries such as China, one may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution, contributed mainly from traffic and traffic-related activities.

How face masks help

Particles and gases contribute to air pollution. Ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and a vast range of molecules collectively known as volatile organic compounds are examples of gases (VOCs). 

While gases might be dangerous, research suggests that fine particles (those smaller than 2.5 microns) should be our primary worry.

Are facemasks useful in minimising or avoiding exposure to air pollution? The kind of pollutant, the mask, and how it is worn all have a role in their effectiveness to reduce exposure. 

The proportion of a contaminant that the mask does not remove is given to masks as a protection factor. If the mask fits securely on the face, a protection factor of 10 indicates that it filters out all but 10% of the pollutant.

When it comes to reducing air pollution exposure, simple paper dust masks are generally worthless. 

However, some low-cost HEPA filter masks, notably “N95 respirators” with a protection factor of 5 and hence the ability to filter out all but 5% of particles, can be successful in minimising fine particle exposure.

For particles smaller than 0.3 microns, effectiveness is diminished – bacteria are larger, while viruses and many tiny particles in automobile exhaust are smaller.

While N95 masks do not eliminate dangerous gases from the air, they can be used in conjunction with other features like activated charcoal to limit gas exposure. 

These masks are more costly, and it is important to figure out which gases they filter and how well they filter them. 

For some people, using a facemask to reduce air pollution exposure might be problematic – they may find it unpleasant, find breathing more difficult, or feel claustrophobic. 

Furthermore, a facemask is only useful if it seals well around the face. Men with beards or who are not shaved can not get a good fit around their nose and lips.

Furthermore, while we are normally subjected to more air pollution outside, we spend the most of our time indoors, where we are exposed to air pollutants such as gases and fine particles. 

Because facemasks are seldom used inside, indoor air cleaners with particle- and gas-filtering capabilities would be required to give more comprehensive protection against contaminants in our air.

Which are the best masks for china air pollution?

The following masks are helpful to protect you from air pollution if you are planning to visit China:

  • 3M™ N95 Respirators
  • 3M™ Aura™ Particulate Respirators
  • Totobobo™ Hightech Anti-Pollution Masks
  • Respro® Pollution Masks
  • Cambridge Masks Co
  • Craft Cadence Nanofiber mask
  • Vogmask™ N99 CV (Carbon Layer / Exhaust Valve)

We shall discuss these in more detail below.

3M™ N95 Respirators

The 3M N95 masks are the most popular and cheap masks (picture above is for the 3M 9501 model). 

Despite their low cost (5 to 6 RMB per mask), the 3M N95 is consistently one of the best performing Particulate Matter masks (i.e. PM2.5 Air Pollution). 

One of the most appealing features of the 9501 model is that it is foldable, allowing you to carry one with you at all times without taking up too much room. 

You can easily acquire this mask from any convenience store in China if you forget to bring one (like 7-Eleven).

The “N95” designation indicates that the mask can filter out at least 95% of airborne particles bigger than 0.3 microns (for reference, PM2.5 particles are 2.5 microns).

According to the test results, N95 is adequate for filtering the majority of PM2.5 particles, however sensitive individuals might consider utilising the N99 version of those masks (N99 stands for filtering more than 99 percent of airborne particles). 

It is worth noting that a mask with the model number 9001, which conforms to the N90 filtration standard, is also widely available.

To be truly effective, such masks must be correctly utilised and worn to achieve a good “fit” with the face. This document from the Singapore government provides a basic but thorough description of how to wear N95 masks. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Department of Health and Human Services also has more detailed explanations.

3M™ Aura™ Particulate Respirators

For those with a bit more budget and still interrested in the 3M masks, the Aura™ 93xx series is a very good option. The price is a little higher (33 RMB for 1 piece for the premimum 9332 model, while it is 29 RMB for 5 pcs for the previous 9501).

The exhaust valve (branded as Cool FlowTM) is included in half of the versions (93×2), which improves comfort, especially for people who have trouble breathing properly while wearing the masks. 

In addition, there are three levels of filtering performance (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3). The N95 standard is quite comparable to FFP2, while the N99 standard is very similar to FFP3.

Totobobo™ Hightech Anti-Pollution Masks

Since 2003, TotoboboTM has been a professional Singapore firm that has been producing their own masks. Their style and concept are quite distinctive, making it ideal for individuals who are always on the move.

Recent research have found that the totobobo fit test does not perform as well as other brands: Fit moulding is necessary while wearing a mask (even the 3M N95) to guarantee that there is no unfiltered air flow. 

Totobo’s strength and weakness are both this fit moulding. On the one hand, Totobo offers a unique heat moulding solution that no other mask has, but if this step is not completed correctly, the fit test will fail. 

Respro® Pollution Masks

The Respro® Masks have been on the market for a long time and are particularly well suited to “urban sports environments,” such as riding in the city and needing to navigate heavy traffic where automobiles are a source of pollution.

The mask has two valves for easy breathing and filters that may be replaced. The filter has a 69-hour life duration, so if you ride for an hour every day, that is three months of use for one filter – not bad.

The mask is composed of Neoprene, which has the benefit of being both durable and elastic, as well as adaptive to various facial characteristics, ensuring a strong seal around the face – and hence a good “fit.”

Cambridge Masks Co

Cambridge Masks is a new entrant in the mask industry, but it has the distinct benefit of being led by Christopher Dobbing, who formerly worked for Vogmask’s Asian distribution.

The Cambridge Masks have a 99 percent filtering effectiveness for PM2.5 particulates, according to a unique “carbon technology developed by the UK Ministry of Defence and utilised by the military for protection against chemical, radioactive, and biological dangers.”

Furthermore, the mask can filter viruses and germs (with a 99 percent effectiveness). 

A specific silver coating layer is added to the mask’s inner protective layer to provide virus and bacteria protection.

Craft Cadence Nanofiber mask

Craft Cadence started off as a bike-related firm situated in London. They also created their own mask, which is unique in that, unlike typical melt-blown mask filters, the nanofiber technology utilised in the masks allows the masks to be rewashed without losing substantial filtration efficacy.

They have also teamed up with Polygiene, a Swedish business, to create the world’s first N99-rated reusable mask with anti-virus and anti-smell technology that kills 99 percent of viruses in two hours and eliminates odour caused by perspiration and germs.

Vogmask™ N99 CV (Carbon Layer / Exhaust Valve)

VogmaskTM is a fashionable mask. It has a N99 filtration grade thanks to the usage of microfiber filtration fabric. For added comfort, half of the models have a valve comparable to the 3M Cool Flow.


In this article, we have discussed the best brands of face masks for people to use in order to protect themselves from the adverse effects of air pollution while travelling to China.


When should I dispose of an N95 mask?

You should dispose of your N95 mask if it has been used in either of the ways mentioned below:

  • After using N95 respirators during aerosol-generating processes, discard them.
  • Masks that have been contaminated by blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other body fluids from patients should be discarded.
  • After close contact with any patient who is co-infected with an infectious condition that necessitates contact precautions.
  • To avoid surface contamination of the respirator, consider using a cleanable face shield instead of N95.
  • When donning a used N95 respirator and performing a user seal check, wear a clean pair of gloves. After you have finished using the gloves, throw them away.

What are the recommendations for the extended use of N95 masks?

When resources are scarce, as as during a pandemic, the user can be prolonged to protect health-care personnel from infection. 

Extended usage refers to the practise of wearing the same N95 respirator for several close contact contacts with different patients without taking it off in between. 

When numerous patients are afflicted with the same respiratory infection and are kept in specialised waiting rooms or hospital wards, extended usage may be used. 

Respirators have been proved in studies to work within their design parameters for up to 8 hours of continuous or intermittent use.


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