Although over a year back, most would have pictured a moisturizing and revitalizing mask when thinking of ‘face masks,’ the COVID-19 outbreak altered the meaning of the word within the past many depressing and deadly months. With the onset and the continuum of the coronavirus pandemic, the whole world has gone through millions of masks, trying to learn over the year which works best and which fits best. From bandanas and cloth masks to surgical masks and N95 masks, people have been busting myths and proving facts over the past many months. So which ones are beneficial, and what are the pros and cons of each type?
Types Of Cloth Face Masks And Their Level Of Effectiveness
- Bandana: Although the triangular cloth protects your mouth and nose from some dust particles and a few droplets of a cough or cold from entering your respiratory system, these are the least effective to protect one from disease as widespread and contagious as the coronavirus.
- Cloth masks: If the mask is homemade, the protection entirely depends on how well it was made and its build’s compactness. Single-layered cloth masks barely provide 1% protection against contracting diseases. In contrast, double-layered cloth masks protect your respiratory system from 35% of small particles and droplets in the air around your nose and mouth. If these masks are store-bought, the protection increases up to 50% but again depends on the materials used and the mask’s general build. These are also only entirely effective if washed and air-dried after every use to prevent any bacteria and viruses trapped in the mask from staying on the mask for a much longer period.
- Filter-attached cloth masks: If the mask has a filter made up of the durable synthetic fiber called polypropylene, it can instantly hike protection efficiency from 35% up to 70% but should be worn with caution as it allows some of the unfiltered air to escape from the mouth via the ventilation and is thus not advised for COVID patients.
Types Of Non-Cloth Face Masks And Their Effectiveness
- Disposable surgical masks: as the name suggests, these masks are to be used ideally for less than a day and should be disposed of carefully, straight after use. These masks are paper-thin but can filter out about 60% of particles and droplets from entering the mask and is thus quite effective, especially as you can throw it as soon as you’re done using it and not track the bacteria and virus into the house.
- Cone-style masks: these masks are designed so that they fit perfectly around your nose and mouth with a strip of metal at the top of the mask to be used for molding the mask to the shape of the bridge of your nose. Although this seems more comfortable to wear, these masks are made out of quilting cotton, which places them lower on the chart of effectiveness than cloth masks.
- N95: Respirators like the N95 are ideal for protection against extremely contagious viruses like the coronavirus as it has been proven to filter out 95% of the particles and droplets from even being close to entering the vicinity of the wearer’s mouth and nose
Difference Between Anti-Dust Masks And Respirators
Although Disposable Anti-Dust Face Masks mimic covid masks, they should not be mistaken because of the stark differences between the two’s functionalities.
- The dust mask is also known as the ’nuisance’ mask because of the hassle of regularly putting it on and the trouble it saves from allergies and irritation if the mask was avoided.
- The dust mask is usually used for those with dust allergies while working with anything dusty; those with hay fever need to do some gardening or the commoner in a dust storm.
- The double fabric N95 mask is a respirator commonly made with two layers of filtration and two outer layers of cloth to breathe in naturally filtered air leaving the particles of dust and disease on the outer layers of the mask.
- Some N95 masks come with a built-in filtrationsystem to further prevent the spread and the overall worsening of this pandemic situation.
- The dust mask is not a guaranteed shield against diseases or cough and sneezes particles.
- Double fabric N95 masks are fit-tested to ensure no possible pathway for leakage or entry of foreign particles to keep the wearer of the mask safe.
The Disposable Anti Dust Face Masks typically come with a NIOSH-approved emblem or sticker of some sort on the mask’s front, whereas the N95 has that of KN95 engraved into those masks. But due to the ongoing pandemic, the global supply of protective and effective N95 masks is in shortage and are thus provided as a necessity in bulk to the frontline workers worldwide.