Hey Northerners, how often do you see people wearing face masks in your city? Of course, if it’s not -10 outside, bumping on a face masked person on the street is a rather rare occasion. There is simply no point, except for protecting your face from cold. But if we travel to Asia, to one of the highly industrialised urban areas in Beijing or Shanghai, you will be stroked by the number of respirators and anti-air pollution masks in the crowd.

A human being breathes about 11,000 litres of air a day, and even so, many people do never reflect on what they actually breathe. But they should. The latest research done by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath showed that 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed the WHO limits.

Air pollution demonstrates painful statistics – we are talking about 18 000 premature deaths per day globally as a result of the toxins found in the air. That makes it a much greater issue than the number of people that die from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries, combined. Plus, the impact of air pollution has a harmful effect on healthy brains. According to the recent evidence, bad air quality may affect cognitive development in school children and lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Airinum, a Swedish startup, has been looking at the problem since 2015. Back then the company rolled out a series anti-pollution breathing mask designed for the urban lifestyle. The masks were sold in over 60 countries and appeared in other media such as CNN and BBC. Today they are bringing a new version of the mask in collaboration with Polygiene with the aim to raise awareness about air pollution.

The idea behind Airinum appeared when co-founder Alexander Hjertström moved from Sweden to India. Shortly after his arrival, his long-gone asthma symptoms started to resurface. After searching for means to protect himself, he discovered that the pollution masks available were far from something he would like to wear himself.

It was evident that the current product offering had not taken a user perspective into account. I simply couldn’t find a mask I would like to wear. I only found industrial respirators that had good protection but were extremely uncomfortable to wear, or poorly protective masks with flamboyant designs”, says Alexander Hjertström, co-founder and CEO of Airinum.

The new mask is available in 3 sizes and can be purchased for $86 + shipment. Although the Nordic countries show lower pollution rates, the health issues from air pollution are real. If you plan a trip to areas with higher air pollution rates, getting one of the beautifully designed anti-air pollution masks might be a good idea.

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