Pollen Season’s Here: How to Breathe Safe

Spring is in full bloom, and that means “April Snow” is at its peak.

 

April snow white fluff pollen

 

But what exactly is this white fluff in the air?

The white fluff in the air is a combination of pollen and catkin. Most people know what pollen is – a fine powdery substance of microscopic grains discharged from flowers. The catkins that blanket Beijing, on the other hand, are petal-less flowers that capture or release pollen.

 

size of pollen pm10 pm2.5

Pollen particle size cherry grass willow

 

The smallest pollen particles are 5 to 10 microns. Large pollen particles are as big as 160 microns — about twice as big as a grain of sand. Because these particles are big, most of them will get stuck in our throat, nose and lungs, rather than being absorbed into our bloodstream, which smaller PM2.5 particles can do.

 

In that case, how does pollen affect us?

PM10 particles like pollen can get stuck in our nose, throat, and lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. This leads to respiratory and cardiovascular problems which could cause higher mortality rates

It gets even worse for people with allergies or ‘hay fever,’ because these people get a second attack. Their body’s immune system overreacts to these particles, triggering cold-like symptoms and even asthma.

 allergies from pollen sneezing

 

Just how many people are affected?

It is estimated that a whopping 40% of the population worldwide has some degree of allergic rhinitis. In general, the percentage of people affected in less developed regions is higher than in developed regions.

 

How can we protect ourselves from pollen?

There are a few simple measures we can take to prevent allergic rhinitis:

 

 1. Wear a mask for outdoor protection

Because pollen particles are fairly large, most masks will capture a high percentage of pollen particles (as long as they fit your face well). Our tests show that these common masks do really well at capturing tiny particles (0.3 and 2.5 microns in size) and therefore. Even tests of surgical masks found that they captured close to 100% of particles above 2.5 microns.

 

masks protect pollen

 

The Pitta mask is one popular pollen-specific mask from Japan which is popular in China right now. Our tests found it did well at capturing larger pollen particles. But it did shockingly badly at capturing PM2.5. 

 

do pitta mask work

 

If you live in a place with both pollen and PM2.5 pollution, like China, 3M N95 masks are a proven and inexpensive means of protection.

 

do 3M mask work

 

 

     2. Get an air purifier for indoor protection

Plenty of research data shows that any air purifier with a HEPA filter will capture pollen.

 

Effectiveness of HEPA for pollen

 

HEPA filters can capture virtually 100% of particles over 2.5 microns. Since pollen particles are all larger than 5 microns, it makes sense that air purifiers can do an even better job of capturing pollen than PM2.5.

 

Make Your Own Low-Cost Pollen Destroyer

 

IQ Air overpriced

 

Big air purifier companies charge outrageous prices for air purifiers, like this popular IQ Air that costs over US$2,000 in China. 

 

smart air DIY air purifier

 

Our open-source data shows that even simple DIY purifiers capture pollen and even tiny PM2.5 particles. You can skip the big company markup and build your own purifier for about $30 — here’s how.

 

Smart Air is a certified B Corp that is working to spread the simple science behind air purifiers and lower the cost of clean air. Make your own DIY purifier or check out our quietempirically backedno-nonsense purifiers.

 

 

Breathe safe!

 

The Sqair air purifier Kickstarter

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