How to Breathe Easy

Surgical masks were a hot item during the SARS scare back in 2003, and a new U.S. government report says the masks may help in the event of a global flu pandemic, though there's scientific uncertainty about exactly how much protection they afford. There are, however, other masks to cover the myriad perils of modern living.

SURGICAL MASK

PROTECTS AGAINST Large airborne particles. Cheap; might stop the flu. Those marked N-95 work better.

SMOKE MASK

PROTECTS AGAINST Small particles, smoke and some fumes. A potential lifesaver when escaping from a fire.

CARTRIDGE RESPIRATOR

PROTECTS AGAINST Chemical and biological toxins, depending on...

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