The Beijing-based startup has been selling these "up-the-nostril" air filters with a claim that its "NoPM" air filter technology blocks out "99% of PM2.5 pollution particles."
We had four of our colleagues (including Yours Truly) try them out for a day and recorded their impressions below:
"Generally an excellent concept and in fact they ride comfortably in my nose and are discreet though definitely not invisible (people will definitely comment "what’s that in your nose?") …"
"It also does make me realize that in fact I do do most of my breathing through my nose. However, being a big-nosed westerner with rather oblong nostrils (as opposed to round), it was not possible to block the airflow around the filter completely, even with the largest size."
"A filter without a good seal is next to useless, so these are unlikely to do any serious protection from tiny particulate matter."
"Unless they come out with the XL-oblong model (at which point I’ll give them another try), I’ll stick to my trusty 3M 8511 n-95 rated facemasks."
"As a lifelong mouth-breather I definitely felt it difficult to remember to keep breathing through my nose to get what I presume would be the full effect."
"Wearing them reminded me of using the Breathe Right strips for snoring – while those helped me a bit with breathing more through my nose at night, I eventually stopped using them because they were simply not very comfortable to wear. I’m afraid Infipure has the same problem."
"It seems reasonable to expect that the air filters do indeed work, but I can’t get around the discomfort of having my nasal passages partially blocked and can’t see myself being able to use this on a continual basis – I kept taking them out to catch a breath."
"To be fair facemasks can be pretty damn uncomfortable too but they do have an added feature of warmth during Beijing winters."
"I tried 3 today. First one – medium – lasted about 3 hours. Was ok, mostly didn’t notice it and felt quite comfortable breathing through it. A bit weird, like having a cold or some sort of nasal inflammation. I imagine this might be what the side effects of solvent abuse might be like. Got a bit bored of it, and decided to take it out."
"Second and third – tried the small, thinking it would be more comfortable. I actually felt more aware of it and found it less natural to breath through. Maybe the smaller radius makes the material more inflexible and more likely to block the nose? Anyway, lasted less than an hour before I decided I couldn’t stand it any more. I don’t really want to try this again."
"I tried and really liked it actually. It is as convenient as condoms, so you can carry them in your pocket just like a condom and if the air gets bad all of a sudden, you can pop one into your nose. You can’t really see them and I got used to the little tingling in my nose pretty quickly. You can breath very naturally, other masks I tried make me feel like I am suffocating."
"But I don’t think they are really efficient … when you’re outside you still open your mouth to breathe and they don’t seem convenient for running or other sports."
Unfortunately most of the feedback in our trial was critical and it seems that our testers felt the "in-the-nostril" aspect was neither comfortable or really blocking out 99% of the pollutants.
Stay tuned this afternoon for Part 2, in which we ask Infipure Co-founder Francis Law for his perspective on these concerns.