In The Dust Of This Planet Clothing – Severe dust storms erupted on the first day of Burning Man in Nevada last year. Credit… Reno Gazette-Journal-Usa Today Network/Sipa Usa
When tens of thousands descend on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man in August, they should expect dust. A gust of wind can sweep across the site at any moment, turning the alkaline beach sand into clouds and covering the temporary city of the festival and its companions under its mantle. Best to come prepared.
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Vogmask, a reusable face mask with an air filter, was designed with burners in mind, but intended to address environmental concerns in general. When Marc Brown attended Burning Man in 2011, he was disappointed that there were no “cool-looking, highly efficient filtering face masks” on the playa, despite the risk of what Burners call “playa lung”, due to inhaling dust from of alkaline silica. from the desert.
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So he and his mother, Wendover Brown, began making their own, working with medical design engineers to ensure its effectiveness. Since Vogmask was founded in 2012, they have seen an increase in demand, not only in the US, but around the world.
Vogmask is just one of a small but growing category of products designed to help people navigate an increasingly polluted planet.
That figure in the distance, covered in dust? He’s the guy they burned at Burning Man 2014. Credit… Andy Barron/The Reno Gazette-Journal, via Associated Press
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New York performance artist and speech therapist Ali Aubuchon tried the playa lung twice during her first three years at Burning Man. Now he makes it a point to always wear a mask in Black Rock City. “It’s a place where it’s not very easy to survive without enough supplies,” said Aubuchon, 38, who performs under the stage name Luminescent Ali.
Protective masks are a common accessory in countries such as Japan, where they are intended to prevent the spread of disease, and China, where they are often used as protection against the country’s alarming levels of air pollution.
Mitsutoshi Horii, professor of sociology at Shumei University in Japan, studies the use of masks in Japanese culture. In a Skype call, he said the use of masks, a practice imported from the United States in 1919 after the Spanish flu epidemic last year, evolved in the 20th century to become an accessory. which people use to deal with various problems such as air sickness, pollution, and allergies.
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Mr. Horii also sees masks as a form of control over current concerns, such as certain religious rituals and superstitions. “When people feel insecure, it’s easy to access masks,” he said. “By using it, people feel safe, as if they are doing something.”
Billie Eilish performed at this summer’s Glastonbury Festival in a mask that was more elegant than practical. Credit… Jim Dyson/Getty Images
Today, in the United States, stylized surgical masks appear in paparazzi photos of celebrities, in the wardrobes of pop stars, and in fashion collections. Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams and Pete Davidson have all been spotted wearing it. Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand has its own line of face masks. And there are thousands of ads on Etsy for handmade surgical masks that are beautiful but probably won’t keep you from getting sick.
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Hannah and Anthony Martinez, from Logan, Utah, decided to start their own mask line after attending Lucidity, a festival in Santa Barbara, California. He said.
The couple, who started selling gear for raves and festivals on Etsy last year, made their first dust masks from fabric scraps. Their current line includes a lively range of masks decorated with sequins, constellation designs and abstract motifs.
For many people though, drawing these masks is just practical. As wildfires, measles outbreaks and air quality alerts become more frequent, customers are turning to mask manufacturers to protect themselves from germs, allergens and other airborne particles. In California, filter masks have become common during wildfires; in Utah, people often use it in the winter, when a phenomenon known as temperature inversion causes a layer of warm air to trap pollution near the ground.
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“Everyone on Earth has said at one time or another, ‘I shouldn’t be breathing this,'” Brown told Vogmask.
Unlike simple cloth masks, filter masks like the Vogmask are FDA designated. such as N95 respirators. The designation confirms the mask’s ability to block at least 95% of 0.3 micron particles in the air under strict laboratory test conditions.
N95 respirators are more effective than plain cloth masks at protecting wearers from airborne particles, said Richard Peltier, professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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“Every time you filter the air through a pleated face mask, some particles are captured. But it may not be effective enough to reduce your exposure,” he said. Even N95 masks only work against solid particles and larger liquid droplets containing pathogens, but it does not prevent exposure to polluting gases such as carbon monoxide.
Other companies that make these masks include O2Today in Salt Lake City; Airinum, a Swedish company; MetaMask, in Auckland, New Zealand; and Cambridge Mask and Respro, both UK initiatives. Many of these companies market their masks as preventative care products and lifestyle accessories.
“A young person who needs to wear a mask to protect their health, for example when going to school or going out in public, is more willing and happy to wear a beautiful mask than a medical-looking mask,” Brown said. .
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This is especially true for people with compromised immune systems, who often need to wear a mask out of necessity. Emily Adams, 30, a Beachwood, N.J. spa manager, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 2. She welcomed the growing popularity of filter masks, which she uses to protect herself from infections. .
“Now people can look at me and say, ‘Okay, maybe they’re sick, but this mask is really cool,'” he said.
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