Donning a mask in full glare of the public immediately made one significant difference. Unfortunately, it had little to do with helping me breathe more easily. In short, I felt enormously self-conscious. I stood for 20 minutes at 3.40pm outside the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, just 30 metres from the roadside monitoring station, with and without my six-ply mask. Passers-by were clearly affected by the air as they hurried past covering their noses with their hands. I was the only one wearing a mask and this made me feel embarrassed and faintly ridiculous. It would not have been so bad if I had felt the mask was helping me breathe cleaner air, but the truth was it did not appear to do me much good. With the mask on, I initially felt I was breathing cleaner air, but after about two minutes things were getting stuffy and sweat was pouring down my face in the 30 degrees Celsius heat. Without the mask I breathed more easily, but my nose quickly became dirty. Something clearly needs to be done to avoid breathing such polluted air but as a relatively healthy person, I cannot say that wearing a face mask is the solution. It is easier to stay indoors and spare yourself the public embarrassment of looking rather ridiculous. Face masks are available from pharmacies and hardware shops, usually for less than $10.