Why don’t people protect themselves from air pollution? We wear sunscreen, we brush our teeth, we wear bike helmets, yet we rarely wear anything to filter out the harmful toxins that plague our city’s air during winter inversions and episodes of high summer ozone.

Is it vanity? Or something else?

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Introducing the City Gill

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One major issue with air pollution masks/ respirators is the direct trade off between comfort and effectiveness. To be effective, a person should be fit tested by a technician with multiple respirators to identify one that is air tight and does not leak. Fitting children or those with beards is typically not possible. Even when properly fit and tightly strapped on, most folks find masks hot and constraining and induce feelings of claustrophobia. Wearing one on hot summer days during episodes of high ozone pollution is a nonstarter.  Likewise, using one while running or biking is an exercise in anxiety control and poor performance as one struggles to breathe.

Think your air pollution mask works? Most don’t. If it’s P100/ N100 rated, test the fit with smoke. Wear it in a confined space, light something on fire. If you smell smoke, it is leaking and will not be effective in protecting you from air pollution.

Maybe a mask isn’t the answer. Is there something better? We believe there is. It is called a City Gill.

City Gills are strapless, open face respirators designed for use by the general public. By coupling a mouthpiece to the most advanced 3M air filters we have overcome the two biggest problems with current air pollution protection, namely effectiveness and comfort.


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The City Gill Advantage

City Gills work for everyone without fit testing. Adults and children, those with beards or “interesting” facial piercings, anyone who can use a snorkel mouthpiece can use a City Gill. No leaks. The fit is air tight.

City Gills use the best air pollution filters available. No need to reinvent the wheel.  3M has spent decades developing and refining air filters for their NIOSH certified commercial respirators. City Gills are compatible with all of 3M’s disk filters.  We prefer 3M’s Easy Breathing N100/P100 Advanced Particulate Filters with activated carbon to mitigate ozone exposure up to 10X OSHA limits and remove 99.97% of PM2.5 and PM10 particulates. These also neutralize some nuisance level acid gases including nitrogen and sulfur dioxide. Don’t settle for N95/P95 when your can use a P100 filter.

City Gills are comfortable to wear. They are lightweight requiring no straps and are held in place with just the mouth.  As such, cool air flows across the face. The disks are positioned on either side of the face enabling a clear view of one’s feet.

City Gills are the most efficient high aerobic respirators available.  Bikers, runners, and walkers are no longer confined to the gym on bad air days.  City Gill’s low internal volume maximizes respiratory efficiency. In “Cheetah Mode” there is zero tidal air exchange.  3M’s Advanced Particulate Filters provide the lowest breathing resistance of all P100 rated filters. No excuses, when the air pollution gets bad, do everyone a favor, run, bike, or walk to work.

City Gills help protect sensitive groups.  Expecting moms; those with asthma and allergies; cancer, pulmonary, and cardiovascular patients;  City Gills are a good aid in protecting even the most sensitive groups from the health consequences of breathing polluted air.

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(Annual Clean Air Kids Rally Utah State Capital: Deseret News/ Laura Seitz)

It is pretty simple.  Air pollution is an insidious killer AND we can do something about it.

In the spring of 2017, a scientist from the Huntsman Cancer Institute (David Nix) with help from several biomedical engineers at the University of Utah, said enough and launched City Gill. We live in Salt Lake City, a wonderful place surrounded by mountains that unfortunately trap air pollution in the valley for weeks at a time.  Winter smog and summer ozone are estimated to trim 2 years of life expectancy and contribute to the death of an additional 1-2 thousand people per year along the Wasatch Front.

UofU Sustainability Office/ Garber

Worldwide, the health consequences of air pollution are even more severe. Between 5.5 -6.5 million people die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air. 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed “WHO’s Ambient Air quality guidelines.” Climate change , anti-environment leadership, a corrupt EPA, and overpopulation are only exacerbating the problem. Strong action is needed today.

What can we do?

  1. Fight for stronger clean air regulations by joining local and national activist groups.
  2. Elect representatives who will champion and enforce these regulations.
  3. Take responsibility for your own contributions to air pollution. Assess, adjust, and where possible, eliminate them.
  4. On bad air days, wear a City Gill or a fit tested air pollution mask to both protect yourself and make a visual statement that you too, have had enough.
Returning to SLC: POWDER/ Cohen
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