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What facemasks works best?

With facemasks now being compulsory on public transport in the UK the question you may find asking yourself is what facemask I should buy. That is a very good questions especially if you are like me and many people who have do not really know anything about the different types of facemasks you can buy or even make at home. So, what facemasks actually work best?

Respirators

Fit- and seal-tested respirators are made of tangled fibres that are highly effective at filtering pathogens in the air. These respirators must meet the rigorous filtration standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The diameter of the coronavirus is estimated to be 125 nanometres (nm). Keeping this in mind, it’s helpful to know that:

  • Certified N95 respirators can filter 95 percent of particles that are 100 to 300 nm in size.
  • N99 respirators have the ability to filter 99 percent of these particles.
  • N100 respirators can filter 99.7 percent of these particles.

Some of these respirators have valves that allow exhaled air to get out, making it easier for to breath. However, the downside of this is that other people are susceptible to the particles and pathogens that are exhaled through these valves.

Surgical Masks

There are various types of surgical masks. Typically, these disposable, single-use masks are composed of breathable synthetic fabric. You will surely recognise these masks if you have been to your friendly dentist.

How well surgical masks filter pathogens varies widely, with reports ranging from 10 to 90 percent.

Despite differences in fit and filtration capacity, a randomized trial found that surgical face masks and N95 respirators reduced participant risk of various respiratory illnesses in similar ways.

Adherence — or proper and consistent use — played a more pivotal role than the type of medical-grade mask or respirator worn by study participants. Other studies have since supported these findings.

Cloth Masks

Do-it-yourself (DIY) cloth masks are less effective at protecting the wearer because most have gaps near the nose, cheeks, and jaw where tiny droplets can be inhaled. Also, the fabric is often porous and can’t keep out tiny droplets.

Although cloth masks tend to be less effective than their medical-grade counterparts, experimental results suggest they are far better than no mask at all when worn and constructed properly.

(Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/best-face-mask-2#types. Accessed 10th June 2020)

Written by Manuel Costin

June 15, 2020

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