CNN just posted an article supporting the assertion I made in March about needing to wear a mask when the US AQI is above 41. I made this assertion based on the World Health Organization guidelines. The WHO recommends that the average lifetime exposure to particulates should not exceed 10 µg/m3. Neither CNN nor the Eurpopean Respiratory Journal talked about wearing a mask, but did talk about the consequences of exposure to these particulates.
The European journal’s article reported that each exposure of 5 µg/m3 or above ages the lungs by two years. It also said that above 10 µg/m3 (US AQI of 42 or higher) COPD cases were four times higher than people living with smokers.
These WHO guidelines on the average lifetime exposure to particulates don’t get enough attention from the mass media or air quality indexes around the world. Air quality indexes around the world, and the media reports around it focus almost exclusively on short-term exposure. This might be because in the 24-hour news cycle, extreme pollution events are more newsworthy than the pollution we are exposed to on a daily basis. The immediate effects are less noticeable but have a long term effect. I don’t know how prominent this article was on CNN’s main page when it first appeared, but it’s encouraging to see CNN report on it at all.
After posting my article raising concerns about the seal on most “fashion masks,” I began looking for masks with a more effective seal. I am in the midst of trying several brands of non-cloth masks to find out how well they work, and I will be reporting on this in a future article