People will be wearing respirators by 2021. I tried wearing one for a week

Who would have thought that face masks would become such a heavily talked about topic of discussion in just a few short months?

While the CDC guidelines make it pretty clear that a face mask is one of the safest ways to protect yourself and others against the transmission of COVID-19, the most effective form of face covering is still widely debated.

That said, with high tech options becoming more accessible, it’s quickly becoming clear that a respirator-style covering may be the best bet for most people.

“Respirators are designed to protect the person wearing them by forcing inhaled air through a filter,” Peter Maric, chief medical officer at O2 Industries, said in a Well+Good report.

“Masks are still very important for infection control, but they do not offer the wearer the same level of protection as a respirator due to the lack of an air tight seal to the face, and depending on the type of material they are made from, they may also not filter as effectively as well.”

With that in mind, here’s exactly what happened when I tried a respirator for a week—and why I will continue to wear one in certain circumstances even once the pandemic becomes a distant memory.

Day one

Honestly, I felt really silly walking around my neighborhood with this device on my face.

Despite living in a city that’s currently experiencing a pretty aggressive second wave of coronavirus, not many people wear masks when they’re walking outside in the street, so I looked extra out of place.

I usually don’t mind when I’m wearing a mask or a face shield but the last thing I wanted was people coming up to me and asking me what I was wearing.

Day two

By the second day, I felt much more comfortable in the respirator and really began to take note of what makes it so much more superior than a face mask alone.

I felt like my respirator was much more secure on my face, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about touching my face trying to adjust it as I was walking—that for me is a huge benefit as I have yet to find a reusable mask that fits my face properly and I hate having to fidget with my mask when I’m in public.

Day three

Today I decided to take the respirator on a run outside to see how it held up with more labored breathing—and I have to say that it did a phenomenal job.

As I noted yesterday, I didn’t feel the need to stop and adjust my mask mid-run, which was really great, but on top of it, I felt like the air I was pulling in was much more clean and easy to breath in.

While I’m lucky enough to live in a city that doesn’t have too much air pollution, I can definitely see the benefit of wearing one of these in an area heavily affected by pollution or smoke.

Day four

I happened to be moving this week and decided to test out the respirator during my move day (I would have had to wear a mask anyway as I was going to be around movers).

My partner unfortunately didn’t have a respirator to use and was heavily affected by the dust and cat fur that became airborne as we were moving our furniture and cleaning our apartment.

Me on the other hand? I didn’t sneeze or cough a single time which came as a huge benefit and definitely sold me on the concept—even if it does make me look a little sci-fi!

Day five

Looking at the huge stack of poorly fitting reusable face masks I have in my entryway made me realize how much a well-fitting respirator could be a game changer for both public health and the environment and I will definitely be continuing to use this device in the future.

While I was particularly fond of the way it formed to my face and how it filters out things like dust and allergens while protecting from airborne viruses, I can’t help but think about just how much better a reusable silicon device is when compared to disposable or even poorly fitting cloth masks that wind up in the landfill anyways.