Traffic cops in Katmandu routinely wear industry standard face masks called N95 to protect themselves from the heavily polluted air. UMass Amherst Assistant Professor Rick Peltier said this is a pretty unusual move by law enforcement, but perfect for environmental health scientists looking to study the mask’s effectiveness.
“Turns out that their lung function improved in that short period of time,” Peltier said. “In other words, their ability to breathe was improved. And it improved their health status. So the N95 masks work.”
While in Nepal, doing that study, Peltier and his students noticed that the more iconic face masks, worn by pedestrians, were different; made of cloth. So back in Amherst, Peltier had his students study the cloth masks. The first set of results — not good. Peltier sent his students back to the lab and said — again — the results were bad.
Click the audio player above to hear Peltier’s conversation with New England Public Radio’s Susan Kaplan.