To save money and to stick with my New Year’s resolution of making healthier life choices, I now commute to work by bicycle. Before this year, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about ten. But as the saying goes, I had no problem jumping right back on despite my fear of getting on the road with the relentless Californian drivers.
I was certainly afraid of riding on the road with all the cars at first, but I’ve eventually gotten over that hump. Now I find myself facing a different concern as I sway in, around, and behind traffic — the toxic emissions from all the car exhaust puffing into my face.
When I mentioned this to my safety expert friends here at PK Safety they told me I needed a respirator mask. Now, to prevent inhaling pollutants when I’m biking in traffic, I wear the Moldex 2300 N95 Particulate Respirator. It features a built-in exhalation valve that allows quick exchanges of fresh air with each breath. If you wear glasses, the valve also helps keep them from getting fogged.
The Moldex 2300 respirator mask has a Dura-Mesh exterior which is durable and keeps the mask clean so I can wear it multiple times before throwing it away. It is 100% PVC-free and blocks at least 95% of any oil-free particles and aerosols, even if it does make me look like an extra in some crazy apocalypse movie.
Some of the worst things for bike riders in traffic are mono-nitrogen oxides. They react with ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form nitric acid and particles that can deeply penetrate and damage sensitive lung tissue. This can cause weakness, shortness of breath, bluish colored lips, or even premature death in extreme cases. Not the kind of benefits I was looking for from riding to work every day!
The vehicle exhaust I was breathing contains ozone, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and benzene, a compound known to cause bone marrow failure. Great.
So if you ride in traffic on a regular basis, be smart and strap on a mask rated at least N95. Otherwise, the biking you are doing to improve your health just might have the opposite effect.