Riders who commute regularly in urban environments with lots of congestion and/or air pollution have to take extra steps to protect their long-term health.
UK company Respro makes masks to help you breathe a little easier.
Motorcycles are superior commuting devices in almost every respect.
They’re light, efficient and fun.
As a biker, once you get over the weather and danger issues (or if you do) then there’s not much else to think about.
But the world is getting more crowded. Cities especially see more airborne pollution from all types of vehicles and many different industries too.
While all the car drivers are stuck in their death boxes, bikers are out there having all the fun — except when it comes to being exposed to airborne pollution.
Do You Need a Sportsta?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the major constituents of airborne pollutants are particulate matter, which are “a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplet suspended in the air”.
These tiny particles can have a number of origins, including acids (of nitrate and sulfur), organic chemicals (a broad term for any chemicals with carbon), metals, soil, dust and allergens (pollen, fungi, mold spores). It all sounds like a nasty cocktail and it is, since all these substances can have an effect on your personal health.
The EPA says that particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (known as PM 10s) are the most dangerous, since they can be inhaled easily and penetrate deep into the lungs. Things like dust and ash are around this size.
One micrometer is equal to 0.0001 millimeter, so even at 10 micrometers, these are very, very small particles. The Pima County, Arizona (U.S.A.) Department of Environmental Quality has a very good web page with a simple description of particulate matter and health effects.
Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5) in diameter are even more dangerous, and can even get into where gas exchange (blood and oxygen/carbon dioxide) occurs between the lung and bloodstream. PM 2.5s include soot, smog and fine dust.
Short term effects include eye irritation, bronchitis, respiratory infections, while long term effects include reduced lung function, chronic lung/heart diseases and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
According to the British medical publication The Lancet, exhaust pollution is the singular biggest, and most preventable, cause of heart attacks to the general public — 7.5 percent of the total.
Respro Sportsta Mask With Helmets
The Sportsta isn’t specifically designed for motorcycling but can fit in open- or full-face helmets.
The Respro Sportsta Mask
British safety equipment company Respro makes products to help you avoid most of this nasty stuff. Respro makes a wide range of respirator products for industry (hence the name, we guess) but also some interesting motorcycle-related products also, like the high-viz “Hump” backpack cover, the Respro Foggy anti-fog mask and raincoats for leather racing suits.
But it’s the filtration masks we’re most interested in here, which is why we purchased a Respro Sportsa mask and an additional Respro “Techno” filter to test for use during commutes.
Respro lists three different masks as being most applicable for bikers: the City, the Sportsta and the Techno (there is a Techno mask and and a Techno filter, which is a bit confusing). Each mask has a replaceable filter unit inside; the filters are standardized so any filter can be used in any mask type.
In brief, the Respro City mask is for cycling, walking or urban commuting, while the Sportsta is designed with rural use in mind, including sports such as adventure-touring, off-road riding, motocross, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowboarding and others.
The Respro City mask has less ventilation and is equipped with a “Techno” filter, which has more filtering properties. The Techno mask combines characteristics of both the City and Sportsta masks, taking the Sportsta’s breathability and combining it with the extra filtering capacity (activated charcoal layer) of the City.
According to Respro, the Sportsta mask is equipped with a filter that has “sub-micron” capability, which (supposedly) means that it can filter out particulates less than 1.0 micrometer in size, up to a quoted minimum of 0.3 microns. This filter is of the HEPA type, or “High-Efficiency Particulate Air” and made of fibreglass fibres, which trap particulate matter and/or pollutants.
Compared to the City mask, the Respro Sportsta also has higher ventilation rates, which helps if it’s used during rigorous activities. The two breathing valves (one on each side) on the Sportsta mask are of the high-flow “Powa” type.
The Sportsta mask will filter out most of the bad stuff in air pollution, with the exception of gaseous pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide. Those are atom-sized gases, so you can’t really filter them out with a particulate filter.
Respro says the Sportsta mask meets the requirements for filtering as set down by the ECE directive number EN 149FFP1(S) for solid aerosol products and is “usable in all outdoor sports pursuits requiring respiratory protection”.
The Techno filter in the Respro City and Techno masks (again, it’s a bit confusing) has the same sub-micron properties as the Sportsta, but it also includes an activated charcoal cloth layer and valves with lower flow.
The charcoal cloth layer is what makes it more effective, and can remove benzene, pyrene, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen (significant components of exhaust fumes) lead oxide and soot, as well as volatile organic compounds.
continue reading Respro Sportsta Mask Review – webBikeWorld.