Health : What type of virus protection mask to choose? What is the difference?
In addition to other protective measures, such as physical or social distinction and good hand hygiene, protective masks are an easy, inexpensive and potentially effective way to stay healthy and flatten the curve of COVID-19 . The government now encourages and requires everyone to wear a protective virus mask in public places.
A growing body of scientific evidence supports the idea that wearing a mask in public places, even when we are healthy, can help decrease the spread of the coronavirus, since we can carry the virus without even having any symptoms. Protecting others is the biggest reason to wear a virus protection mask.
But in addition to helping to protect others, masks also offer protection to the wearer, although the effectiveness of this protection varies depending on the type of mask you wear. There is no mask that could offer complete protection against the virus, nor can masks replace physical distinction from others, hand hygiene and avoiding gatherings. But when you combine the virus protection mask with all of these measures, it can really make a big difference.
Choosing a disposable coronavirus protective mask or a fabric mask? Is there a difference between the two?
So what type of mask is best to wear against the coronavirus?
When choosing your mask, experts suggest focusing on the material, shape and breathability of the mask. The degree of protection of the mask will depend on the material the mask is made of and also on how well it seals the face. But if we can’t breathe well through the mask, we won’t be able to take it too long on our face.
In this article we are going to walk you through the different types of masks that you might find and how effective they are in protecting yourself and others around you. Since reusable fabric masks are perhaps the most widely used masks, let’s start with this type of mask.
If you have decided to purchase a reusable fabric mask, you should first think about the fabric the mask is made from. The tightness of the weave is really important. This is the first thing you should consider, experts advise. To check the fabric the mask is made of, you should hold it under the light: if you can easily see the outline of the individual fibers, then this mask will not be able to filter well.
According to scientific researchers, the tight 100% cotton weave is a good bet. The reason for this is because at the microscopic level, natural cotton fibers tend to have a more three-dimensional structure than synthetic fibers which are smoother. This 3D structure can create more roadblock which could stop the coming particles.
A new scientific study at ACS Nano tested the extent to which several different materials have the ability to filter. Although two science materials including one which is 100 percent polyester looks great, most synthetics don’t look great. But even a mask made of synthetic fibers is better than not wearing a mask at all, scientists say.
Consider using a virus protection mask made of several layers. Several scientific studies have shown that masks made of several layers are more effective at blocking small particles.
A good option? A mask made of two layers of tightly woven material with an integrated pocket where you can place a filter. The best choice for material to integrate as a filter is polypropylene which is a derivative of plastic. Polypropylene is very good as a physical filter but also has another positive aspect – it holds an electrostatic charge. In other words, polypropylene uses the force of static electricity. Think about the static cling that can occur when you rub two pieces of fabric together. This is basically what happens with this material. This “sticky” effect traps incoming and outgoing droplets. And this is what you need: its sticky effect is very important.
The mask, whether fabric or surgical, likely decreases the possibility of contacting COVID-19
And unlike other materials, polypropylene retains its electrostatic charge in the moisture created when you exhale, says Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University who co-authored the study. Nano Letters. Polypropylene will lose its electrostatic charge when you wash it, but you can recharge it by ironing it or rubbing it with a plastic glove for about 20 seconds. Once you have the static bond, your mask is ready to be reused.
According to scientists, a cotton mask with two layers of tight weave could filter about 35 percent of small particles. By adding a filter made of two layers of loaded polypropylene, you can boost its filtering efficiency by an additional 35. But you should still choose a cotton mask because, worn close to the face, cotton is the most important material. comfortable.
Many people make their own cloth masks
In case you can’t find yourself polypropylene, then go for fabric. Take two sheets of tissue paper, fold them up and put them inside your mask pocket to finish with a four-layer filter that you can change every day. What is surprising is the fact that the four layers of paper can give you adequate protection even if the paper does not have an electrostatic charge.
If neither of these options works for you, a mask made of three or more layers of tightly woven cotton is also a good option, experts say. Although some sites on the internet have suggested that coffee filters could turn into a good protective face mask, scientists are more against using a coffee filter as a protective face mask. According to them, it is difficult to breathe through the coffee filters, so you will end up having difficulty wearing such a mask. It’s like you have a pipe that you are trying to put your finger on, but water keeps flowing around it. In the case of the mask, the air will pass around the filter making it unnecessary to use a filter.
Wearing a mask is important especially to protect those around us
The shape of the protective mask is also very important. The mask’s ability to filter particles will depend not only on the material of the mask, but also on how well the mask sticks to the face. When it comes to sheet masks, the ones that hug your face are the best. Masks with pleats are also a good choice. The folds stretch so that more air circulates between the fabrics themselves instead of flowing through the holes in the sides of the mask. Masks with a flat front are less effective, according to specialists.
Another tip to improve the seal of your mask: add a layer of tights. Cut a length of pantyhose 20 to 25cm from top to bottom, one leg over a pair of pantyhose, and pull it over the top of your mask. This will force particles that might otherwise enter through the sides of the mask and be inhaled to instead pass through the mask which will filter them out.
What about neck warmer masks then? Often made of synthetic material, these masks are designed to cover your face, nose and mouth and wrap around you. Theoretically there will be less chance for air to literally escape from the sides as it will from masks that are open on the sides.
Avoid masks with exhalation valves. Some disposable or cloth masks come with an exhalation valve on the front. The valve makes the process of breathing easier, but it also releases air that is unfiltered, so you’re not protecting others if you are ever contagious. And protecting others is the primary reason for wearing a virus protection mask.
Clean your mask. Experts say sheet masks should be washed daily with soap and hot water. Make sure the mask is completely dry before you use it again as with a mask that is still wet it will be more difficult for you to breathe and moisture can also cause microorganisms to grow in the mask.
N95 respirators are designed to create a tight seal around the nose and mouth. When these masks are worn correctly, they can block at least 95 percent of small particles. These respirators are great for protecting both the mask wearer and others around. Why are they so effective? N95 respirators are made from many thin layers of polypropylene which uses the force of static electricity to catch particles and droplets.
But experts say that this type of mask is still in short supply and must therefore remain reserved for doctors. If you ever find such a mask, you should know that some of these masks are not really authentic, so be careful when purchasing your mask.
KN95 type masks are regulated by the Chinese government. As with N95 masks, this type of mask is supposed to filter up to 95 percent of small particles. However, tests have shown that the performance of this type of mask is poorer and it is in many cases counterfeit. And while some counterfeits can actually filter out at least 95 percent of the particles, others are catastrophic at it and fall apart still in our hands.
If you have a KN95 mask, you should be aware that you may not be as protected as you think you are. So be sure to take the other protective measures as well so as not to contact the coronavirus. Even wearing a genuine respirator mask will not make you invincible, so the other measures should be practiced regardless of the situation.
The surgical masks on the other hand are disposable masks worn loosely around the face. In limited supply at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, surgical masks have become available today. This type of mask is primarily designed to protect others from the wearer of the protective mask and to block large particles and droplets in the air. Many surgical masks are made of paper, although some can be made with polypropylene.
Scientific studies have shown that surgical masks are able to block a large majority of respiratory droplets emitted by an infected person. But how well a surgical mask might protect the wearer from small particles could vary widely based on the same methods used to test N95 respirator masks. For example, one surgical mask tested blocked 30 percent of small particles, while others filtered out even up to 80 percent of these particles.
So, regardless of whether you choose to wear a fabric virus protection mask or a disposable mask, it is very important to be aware that this does not mean that you might suddenly prolong your physical contact with others. Face masks may give you a few minutes more protection, but in no case are they hours, or extended periods of time. It is therefore recommended, in addition to wearing a mask, to also take other protective measures such as social distancing and good personal hygiene.