I spent most of my adult life backpacking through some of the toughest places on earth - the open road -high adventure - war-ravaged towns - refugee camps - poverty, etc. I have endured more unpleasant circumstances in my days, but none compared to being exposed to toxic fumes from motor vehicles and open waste burning in megacities like Lagos and Delhi. I can't help but still look back on my days on the road in some of the most polluted cities in the world with deep fondness.
The air quality in Ghana’s capital Accra, where I currently reside, is at health-damaging level. I wake up most days with smoke from residential trash fires floating in my room. Air pollution is a leading risk factor for premature death in Ghana, contributing to diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections.
The pollution levels are far worse in the urban core, where exhaust fumes from aged cars and smoke from rubbish fires fill the lungs of residents.
Poor air quality in developing countries is expected to worsen as their urban population and motor vehicle numbers increase. Because there is no escape for most of us living in poor and developing cities from this public health challenge, I started questioning my role in such a future. I started the AirMask & Textiles Company with the goal to design easy to use, breathable, effective and high-performance air filtration masks which works for most environments, and for urban dwellers everywhere.
Thanks to the dedication of my team, ATC Masks today are used for countless applications worldwide, including for protection against PM2.5, dust, allergens, smoke, particles found in air pollution, and viruses and bacteria. They are useful for everyone, particularly for sensitive individuals and people who need protection against poor air quality at home, workplace and the outdoors.
The AirMask & Textiles Company is involved in a lot of community outreach programs to help communities in developing countries affected by air pollution. 30% of every mask sold is deposited into a special fund which we frequently use to support local communities. Our programs include the donation of free particulate and gas masks to poor and vulnerable communities and setting up low-cost air quality monitoring networks.
Without data showing national or international standards are being breached, there will be no urge for city authorities to act on air pollution levels. We are concerned about this because only a small fraction of developing countries are monitoring the air they breathe.
You help communities like Agbogbloshie, Ghana, whenever you purchase our masks.
Good luck, and breath safe!
Muntaka Chasant | Founder & CEO