Along with other protective measures, such as social or physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, face masks may be an easy, inexpensive, and potentially effective way to stay safe and flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), now encourage all people to wear masks or face coverings when out in public.
So, which type of face mask works best for avoiding transmission of the new coronavirus when you’re out in public? Continue reading to learn more about the different types of masks and which one you should wear.
With the new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, the largest amount of viral shedding, or transmission, happens early in the course of the disease. Therefore, people may be contagious before they even start to show symptoms.
Moreover, scientific models suggest that up to 80 percent of transmission stems from asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
Emerging research suggests that widespread mask use may help limit the transmission of the virus by people who don’t realize that they may have it.
Fit- and seal-tested respirators are made of tangled fibers 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 nanometers (nm). Keeping this in mind, it’s helpful to know that:
Some of these respirators have valves that allow exhaled air to get out, making it easier for the user to breathe. However, the downside of this is that other people are susceptible to the particles and pathogens that are exhaled through these valves.
Frontline healthcare and other workers who need to use these masks as part of their job are tested at least once a year to verify proper respirator size and fit. This also includes checking for air leakage using specific test particles. These routine tests help ensure that harmful particles and pathogens can’t leak through.
There are various types of surgical masks. Typically, these disposable, single-use masks are cut into a rectangle shape with pleats that expand to cover your nose, mouth, and jawline. They are composed of breathable synthetic fabric.
Unlike respirators, surgical face masks don’t have to meet NIOSH filtration standards. They aren’t required to form an airtight seal against the area of your face that they cover.
However the LY95 mask we provide can protect you up to 95% filtration.
Despite differences in fit and filtration capacity, a randomized trial found that surgical face masks and KN95 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.
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