Why at all we are wearing these masks? Is this really saving us from coronavirus?
Let’s find out…
The answer is very simple, just figure out the purpose and functions of these facemasks and you will have all your questions answered.
WHO recommends that persons with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should wear a medical mask, self-isolate, and seek medical advice as soon as they start to feel unwell with potential symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild
Follow all additional measures, in particular, respiratory hygiene, frequent hand hygiene, and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from other persons
WHO advises decision-makers to apply a risk-based approach focusing on the following criteria when considering or encouraging the use of masks for the general public:
Purpose of mask use:
Source control: if the intention is preventing the infected wearer from transmitting the virus to others.
Prevention: to offer protection to the healthy wearer against infection.
Risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus:
Depending on occupation: e.g., social workers, personal support workers, cashier.
The vulnerability of the mask wearer/population:
Medical masks could be used by older people, immune-compromised patients, and people with comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.
Setting in which the population lives:
- Settings with high population density (e.g. refugee camps)
- Settings where individuals are unable to keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) (e.g. public transportation).
- Costs of masks
- Access to clean water to wash non-medical masks.
Type of mask:
- medical mask
- non-medical mask
Medical masks are defined as surgical or procedure masks that are flat or pleated; they are affixed to the head with straps that go around the ears or head or both.
Their performance characteristics are tested according to a set of standardized test methods (ASTM F2100, EN 14683, or equivalent) that aim to balance high filtration, adequate breathability, and optionally, fluid penetration resistance.
medical masks filter 3-micrometer droplets
Filtering face-piece respirators
- Filtering face-piece respirators (FFR), or respirators.
- Offer a balance of filtration and breathability.
- Respirators filter 0.075 micrometer solid particles.
- Within specified parameters for maximum CO2 build up.
European FFRs – filter at least 94% solid NaCl particles (EN 149)
US N95 FFRs – filter at least 95% NaCl particles (NIOSH 42 CFR)
Now the question is, which is the best mask for Covid 19?
Based on the category and your requirement, multiple companies are offering different types and variety of masks. Out of the few masks I came across, I found the below-mentioned mask reasonably well placed over their competitors.
What does N95 mean?
Masks can be categorized in multiple ways. Here in this case, for “Mask N95” the categorization is based on the following factors:
Respirator Rating Letter Class:
- N: Non-Oil – The mask is not suitable for an oil-based work environment
- R: Resistant to oil for 8 hours – suitable to use in an oil-based environment for 8 Hrs. only
- P: oil-proof
- 95: means 95 percent efficiency. Masks ending in a
- 99: means 99 percent efficiency. Masks ending in
- 100: means 99.97 percent efficient
- 0.3 microns: The mask filters particles of size up to 0.3 microns
So it is crystal clear as to why at all we are wearing these masks now. Wearing a mask for the sake of it is not enough, you need to understand the way it is to be used. This article is intended to make you understand the basic function of a mask, choosing the right mask, and using it the way it should be used.
Till the vaccine arrives, freedom from the mask is not sight, at least not in immediate future. It’s a long way to go. Be an informed buyer.