Most people know of two types of disposable masks. The first type is the paper or thin cloth that surgeons use. This mask acts as a very basic barrier between the mouth, nose, and outside air. These are the kinds of clothes that pop singer Michael Jackson used to wear whenever he ventured out. They both protect you from inhaling and inhaling pollutants, but of course this protection only extends to a certain extent. Disposable face masks will not be appropriate on a construction site, for example, or anywhere else where airborne debris can be very heavy.
Then there are the disposable face masks that are designed for more dangerous uses in the workplace or when the user knows that he will face more dangerous germs than those that transmit the common cold. Disposable masks are made from a variety of materials and are shaped to safely cover the nose and mouth. Sometimes they also have a breather valve and their goal is to filter more than 99% of the pollutants in the surrounding air.
N95 face masks bought at Pandemic Pal are perhaps the most famous because they were specifically recommended by health experts when the swine flu pandemic broke out a few years ago. This is the kind of mask I travel with when I travel. I don’t necessarily wear it all the time, but if someone in my section of the plane has been coughing and piercing for a long time, they better think I’d wear the mask. I don’t care what other people say or the weird looks I’m sure I’ll get. Staying healthy is more important to me than other people’s opinions.
In any case, disposable masks are very cheap, so there is no reason not to buy a pack of them and carry one or two when traveling or near a group of strangers for an extended period of time. You never know what could happen, and prevention is definitely better than cure. This is not a cause for concern. It is a process. Like I said, I’m generally not afraid of germs, but there are definitely times when you need to take precautions.