Tuesday, June 9, 1998 Published at 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Cycle masks fail pollution tests
Cyclists who wear masks may not be as protected as they think
Many cycle masks don't filter out poisonous pollutants and several perform poorly in tests, according to 'Health Which?' magazine.
The magazine tested one upgrade filter and seven of the most commonly used cycle masks for leakage, for how much foreign matter gets into them and for how much carbon dioxide breathed out by cyclists doesn't get out. Many did not come out well, despite their manufacturers' claims.
The main reason cyclists use masks is to filter out harmful pollutants linked to many heart and lung diseases, including asthma, and ozone, which causes sore throats, breathing difficulties and watery eyes.
The tests found that the price of the mask is no indicator of how well it works. The cheapest mask in the test - Kanco Eezy Breethe - scored well for leakage and filtering out pollutants.
It was one of three products which did well in keeping out normal and ultra-fine particles of pollution. The others were Respro Techno Gold and the Techno Gold Upgrade Kit.
Masks that scored poorly included Airwair Neo Face Mask, Airwear Outlaw Biker Scarf, Freeway Basics Cyclist's Face Mask and Respro Urban Survival City 149.
'Health Which?' says many of the manufacturers claim their masks can filter out harmful gases.
But it is dubious about the way they test these claims.
It believes the conditions in which the masks are tested may be "unrepresentative" of the conditions many cyclists will encounter on the road.
Charlotte Gann, editor of 'Health Which?', advised cyclists to study the test results carefully. "Not all masks give you the protection you're looking for," she said.