We returned from Rainy Tokyo to Hazy Singapore. Over the next few days, the haze went from bad to unbearable. Our air purifiers were working overtime. The timing of this haze could not have been worse because it was still the September school holidays. We closed all windows, doors and cracks and sealed ourselves off in our homes. The kids were quarantined indoors as well, but they did not mind it that much because the haze gave them a valid reason to request for more digital play time.
With school reopening in a few days and the worsening haze conditions, I thought it best to stock up. At Unity pharmacy, I brought a box of N95 masks for the adults and a couple of Air+Smart Mask ($7.90) for the kids to try.
With the haze shrouding the island of Singapore, my main concern is how to limit the kids’ exposure to haze while they are in school. Most local primary schools have some air-conditioned rooms for specific class needs. Most of the classrooms have an open-air ventilation system with windows and ceiling apertures to allow fresh air to enter and ceiling rotation fans help to circulate the air.
With the current haze PSI levels above the unhealthy range of 200, my kids report that their classroom doors are closed but some of the windows remain open. Otherwise the entire room becomes too hot and humid. In their respective schools, they also reported that each classroom has an air purifier but it was not sufficient to combat the bad air.
Here is a quick review of the different masks worn by our kids.
3M 8210 N95 Particulate Respirator
This mask (retailing at $38 for a box of 20 or $1.90 per mask) fits the adult perfectly but was too big for the kids under 10 years old. My daughter reports that it is very hot and she finds it difficult to breathe. When she took off the mask after 5 minutes, a layer of sweat beads had formed on her upper lips.
Even for me (an adult), the mask felt warm and restricted my breathing — it feels like you are breathing in recycled air from the carbon dioxide you exhaled. For short distances like traveling between your home to your car or from the car to your office or indoor destination, this mask will suffice.
Verdict: NOT recommended for kids. Use it only as a last resort if there are no masks available. Do NOT stock up on this mask as the sponge will not last past its expiration date in our humid weather.
Hello Kitty N95 Masks (Nepure)
Imported from Korea, this mask (retailing at S$3.95) was incredibly light and comfortable for the kids. It is approved by FDA of Korea, is N95 and Bacteria and Particle Filtration Efficient. It does not hurt that it came with the cutesy Hello Kitty prints. They also have it in Thomas the Train prints which were sold out at the time I was writing this post. But I had bought some much earlier from Guardian pharmacy before the haze invaded the island.
Unlike the 3M mask featured above, you can buy a few extras of these masks and save it for hazy days. The 3M mask has a sponge which will disintegrate in our humid weather within a year.
Verdict: It was easy to put on, light, pretty and comfortable to wear. This is my daughter’s preferred mask. STOCK up some if you find it during the off-haze season.
Air+ Smart Disposable Mask
This is the mask du jour. Everyone wanted one of this. When the PSI level went over 200, these masks flew off the shelves like there was never going to be fresh air again.
The Air+Smart Mask (retailing at $7.20 per box with 3 masks in each box or $2.40 per mask) claims to filter 95% of airborne particles including haze, volcanic ash and viruses. It’s adjustable head straps also offer better fit and flexibility. Most importantly, it has a smart valve designed to maximise exhalation relief, meaning that you can breathe easily.
This mask comes in 3 sizes (S, M and L) — there is a measurement chart on the side of the box to ensure you buy the right size. The valve is said to offer protection of up to 8 hours. You may want to purchase the matching Air+ micro ventilator that supposedly recharges the valve so you can reuse the mask instead of throwing it away. Unfortunately, the ventilator (retailing at $58) was sold out at this time.
Verdict: This is my son’s preferred mask. The valve allowed air to enter and he found it easy to breathe even with the mask on for extended hours (he wore it for hours during class sessions and while waiting to take the public bus home). It was light on his face, and being a tween, it was a “cool”… Definitely worth stocking up on this one especially the ‘M’ and ‘L’ sizes and if you are buying the ventilator.
The prices of all masks quoted are in Singapore dollars and all the masks are available at Guardian Pharmacies, Watsons and Unity Pharmacies with varying degrees of availability.
Share with us your experiences with the masks and how/what you did with your kids to weather the hazy days. We will love to hear from you and for you to connect with US on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.