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4 effective alternatives if you don’t have an N95 mask

Alternatives to N95 mask

  • Stores are running out of N95 masks
  • N95 masks are overpriced due to high demand

Taal Volcano has had a total of 34 eruptions recorded and the first one happened in 1572. The volcano has since taken more than 6,000 lives.

It is the most active volcano in the country, second only to Mount Mayon, which last erupted back in 2018.

People consider the eruption from May 15 to December 21 of 1754 as the most destructive.

A parish priest of Sala by the name of Fr. Buencuchillo described how bad the situation was over there.

He said that at least 12 people died in very painful ways.

“Twelve persons are known to have perished – some carried away by the waves of the lake, others crushed beneath their collapsing houses. Thus the beautiful town of Taal remains a deserted wilderness and reduced to the utmost misery, while once it was one of the richest and most flourishing places.”

Livestock also suffered.

“All the animals of whatever kind have perished, some by being buried, others by drowning, the rest by starving, as not a green blade remained anywhere.”

Now, shades of past eruptions are present once again, as the volcano erupted in the afternoon of January 12, after 43 years of inactivity.

Ashes have now scattered around Luzon, specifically in Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and some parts of Central Luzon. This has caused the cancellation of flights, classes, work, and other regular gatherings and events.

People in the affected areas are now looking for N95 masks, also known as N95 respirators, which are designed to reduce exposure to airborne biological contaminants.

Unfortunately, it cannot eliminate the risk of death, illness, and disease.

The availability of the N95 masks is decreasing every single day due to high demand and some drug stores have run out of stock.

Other suppliers are exploiting the high demand for these masks and are selling them for ₱200 apiece.

For those who cannot get their hands on these masks, no need to worry. There are various alternatives that prove to be just as effective as the N95.

1. Buy R95 Masks

Major Saftey, a blog associated with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S., says that the difference between R95 and N95 is that the former provides protection from oil-based particles, but the latter cannot.

“Under the NIOSH classification system, ‘N’ rated respirators can only be used for particles that do not contain oils. But, ‘R’ rated respirators may be used in environments that contain oily particles.”

R95 masks are usually sold around ₱50 each.

2. Disposable surgical face mask and 2 layers of facial tissue

Surgical masks can also get the job done. Only thing you have to do is to place 2 layers of facial tissue between your face and the surgical mask. This increases the mask’s filtering ability and will provide sufficient protection from the ashes.

3. Create a makeshift mask.

If you don’t have any of those items mentioned above, then you can make your own mask. All you need is a fabric of your choice and a garter. For further instructions, please watch the video.

Not everyone has a sewing machine at home, but still no need to worry, as you can still make your own mask with the use of an old shirt and a pair of scissors.

4. Use a wet handkerchief or towel



When you don’t have time to do any of those mentioned, then the quickest way you can protect yourself from the ashes and smoke is to get a wet cloth, preferably a handkerchief or a towel, and cover your mouth. This has been taught as a fire safety tip for a long time now.

Written by JO-EST B. TAN

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