By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Ever since the pandemic hit, I wanted a reusable mask instead of having disposable ones nearby. Amazon is still rife with tons of sellers because some parts of the world are still in lockdown or very slow in vaccinating their populace. As the Summer season is in full swing and people are hankering to travel, just where folks can go depends on whether border restrictions have eased. Some countries have physical comic book shows going on, but if people can’t get there from afar, there’s nothing anyone can do but wait or have proof of being vaccinated. Most operations are still asking that people wear a face covering.
The delta variant is concerning. I don’t see an immediate future where masks aren’t mandatory. I predict mask usage will be required at indoor events–especially conventions and concerts–for the rest of the year. As for what brand I’ll be using, that’s still up in the air.
Cambridge Mask. Vogmask, Airinum, and Respro have been around long enough to have a strong reputation. Not all of them are designed to 100% protect against viruses. Neither are they designed to be perfect. The problem will be in either its fit or ability to filter out the junk (typically polluted air than viruses) the user wants to avoid contact with. To find out if a product is good is by checking the NIOSH website. They’re the number one regulatory agency. A full list of approved products is on The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Website.
I’m providing this checklist so cosplayers can have a selection of items they can purchase and perhaps fix into their costume. They can’t be modified, but can replace the typical guard used in that stormtrooper or custom-made helmet.
When considering all the startups on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the choices are many and the certifications questionable. A lot of the those look more like fashion than functional wear. There are third party groups who can test their efficiency, but is it the same as submitting to the USA based center? The choice is buyer beware.
I took a chance on Ausair because Australia often has bushfires which heavily pollutes the air. The one from Sept 2019 to March 2020 was their worst yet. This company was borne from the claim it offers complete smoke filtration on their crowdfunding site. I have to fully test this claim in North America. I remember the smell from the summer California wildfires making its way all the way into parts of the Canadian side of the Pacific Northwest. If the fires from the British Columbia interior weren’t bad enough, I wasn’t prepared, but now I am!
All I can say is that the Ausair mask can’t completely blank out the smell of cannabis. Another herb nearly filtered is sage, a plant which has quite the scent when used as a spiritual cleansing tool.
I was sold on the fact the filters for the Ausair product also come in scented flavours. If you’re the type who uses essential oils or scented products around the house, then this product is for you! Otherwise, the search continues. I’m finding the shell requires replacing around the yearly mark, if not sooner. There are six contact points to ensure that the detachable filter stays on. Four are from the rubber logo attachment (top and bottom), and the center held in place by the valves poking through the holes in the face covering. I thought it was odd the shell doesn’t have a ring as the foam isn’t likely to catch anything but the largest particles in the air.
I recommend doing a tug test to make sure they are firmly connected otherwise either can fall off.
I’ve had bits disappear when I least expected it. In the past year, I lost a valve top and also the rubber hook. I was a backer and replacements (of the former) were sent after contacting their excellent customer support line. After using this mask a lot more frequently, the shell/skin is showing wear. The seams at where the foam meets are parting. Even the holes where the valves stick out have visible breaks. I have my doubts about this product’s usefulness after regular use in the period of a year.
Spending approximately $70 CAD (not including shipping) for another one isn’t in the cards, even though they’ve updated the design. I was an Indiegogo backer which offers a bit of a longer warranty, but at the time of publication, the company hasn’t gotten back to me. (Update: They replied via Facebook Messenger and said the upgrade program ended in March 2021.)
Also, purchasing new filters can be very costly. It’s best to stock up when they have sales.
I’d rather stick to Cambridge Mask or check out Vogmask. Both are all-in-one design and are somewhat cheaper. Since a few health authorities are saying masks with a valve don’t help much, I need to have options. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports face shields don’t do a thing to protect people, so I don’t get why I run into the random person who insist on breaking the social distancing rule.
I’m inclined to continue experimenting post-pandemic to lessen the chance of experiencing con crud. Even in a post-pandemic world, Covid-19 isn’t going away. It’s changed and the Delta variant is potentially worse. It Is better to be safe than sorry, and not even the healthiest can escape catching a flu unless covered up.