The World Health Organization recommends wearing masks to slow down the transmission of (COVID-19).
We start the topic by mentioning respirator masks, not to be confused with a respirator or mechanical ventilator, they are designed to fit snugly on the face and require a rigorous fitting process.
When you inhale, all the air passes through a filter, and this has been tested to a performance standard. Therefore, you can be sure that if you seal your face well, the respirator is reducing the number of particles you are going to breathe and going to the lungs.
These respirators come in several different forms, with or without a filter, some are designed to be disposable, while others can be disinfected and reused.
In Europe, this type of mask is classified in FFP1, which filters at least 80% of the particles; FFP2 eliminates at least 94%; and FFP3 devices, more than 99.9%.
In the United States, FFP masks are classified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in terms of the percentage of particles they filter.
Thus, N95 and N99 filter 95% and 99% of the particles respectively, while N100 removes 99.97%.
According to the experts in the field, the N99 masks are the most effective to avoid the best and worst masks to avoid the Covid-19
In terms of Protection, the most recommended masks are the N95 and surgical masks and even the filters of the vacuum cleaners, which can be inserted into the pockets of the cloth masks. In fact, experts have found that they reduce the risk of infection by up to 83 percent when exposed to the virus for 30 seconds, and 58 percent when the infection is exposed to 20 minutes.
On the other hand, it has been shown that scarves can reduce the risk of contagion by 44% and that, also, wearing a cloth shirt as a mask can be more effective than not wearing anything.
Some other specific information about the masks …
Surgical masks: Also known as clinical masks, surgical masks are disposable, do not fit snugly, and protect the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes, and sprays that may contain microbes. Surgical masks also filter out large particles in the air. They can protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the person using it.
N95 masks: N95 masks offer more protection than a surgical mask because they can filter out both large and small particles when inhaled by the wearer. As the name implies, the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles. Some N95 masks have valves that make it easier to breathe through them. With this type of mask, unfiltered air is released when the wearer breathes out. Like surgical masks, the intention is to make N95 disposable. But researchers are testing to find ways to disinfect N95 masks so they can be reused.
Some N95 masks, and even some cloth ones, have one-way valves that make breathing through them easier. But since the valve releases unfiltered air when the person wearing it exhales, this type of mask does not prevent the person wearing it from transmitting the virus. For this reason, some places prohibit using them.
Cloth masks: The intention is for the cloth mask to catch the droplets that are released when the person wearing it speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19, but don’t know it. Cloth masks are highly likely to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used in public places. And countries that required mask use, screening, isolation, and physical distancing early in the course of the pandemic have been successful in reducing transmission of the virus.
While surgical masks and N95s may be in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare providers, cloth masks are easy to find or make and can be washed and reused.
They can be made of common materials, such as cotton sheets with tight yarn. Instructions are easy to find on the Internet. Cloth masks should be multi-layered.
Some tips to put on and take off the cloth mask:
- Wash or disinfect your hands before and after putting on and taking off your mask.
Cover the mouth and nose with the mask.
Tie it behind the head or behind the ears, and make sure it fits snugly.
Do not touch the mask when it is on.
If you accidentally touch it, wash your hands, or clean them with disinfectant.
If the mask gets wet or dirty, replace it with a clean one. Put the used mask in a tightly sealed bag until you can wash it.
Take off the mask by untying it or lifting the part around the ear, and without touching the front of the mask or the face.
Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask.
Wash the mask regularly with soap and water, by hand or in the washing machine. It can be washed together with other clothes.
Precautions to take into account about the mask:
- Do not put a mask on anyone who has difficulty breathing, is unconscious, or cannot remove the mask without help.
Do not put masks on children under 2 years old.
Do not use the mask as a substitute for physical distancing.