This week, for the first time this season, I noticed that the air in Delhi was dense and foggy. Maybe, I noticed this because I was back after spending a couple of days in Kerala where the air is definitely cleaner. Maybe, I noticed it because my Apple Watch has for a few days been indicating that the air around me is “unhealthy”. But yes, it was clear that the air was better a few weeks back and with the festival and chaff burning season ahead there was no chance of this getting better till the end of the year.
This is why I thought the time was right to test the Prana Air smart air purifying masks. Over the past few years, us hapless citizens of the dust bowl called Delhi have been left with no option but to buy masks to at least feel that we are a bit better off than breathing the air as is. While there have been many masks that have found currency in the past few years, this is different.
The Prana Air mask actually purifies the air before you get to breathe it. It has a battery inside that powers fans that suck in air through a HEPA filter which the company claims can keep out “95 per cent particles 0.3 microns or larger. Yes, it is pretty much like tying an air purifier to your face.
When you hold the mask in your hand you can feel the fan working. But it is not at all loud and you don’t feel the fan when you wear it. There is a light that switches on for a second to indicate that the mask has been powered on. Breathing through the mask is like keeping your face right next to the vent of an air purifier. The air is soothing and certainly better, or even sharper, than what is outside. I got the feeling that filter is scented as my olfactory senses sprung to action as soon as I wore the mask.