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What Is the Protection Level of Different PPE and Medical Masks Based on Particle Size?

by eBusiness UK Ltd on May 20, 2021

The virus that causes Covid-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. It was first detected in Wuhan, a town in China in the late stages of 2019. The disease has since spread and keeps wreaking havoc in different parts of the world. It was declared a global health pandemic on 11th March of 2020. By then the virus had caused many deaths in China.

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease that has mild symptoms in some people. However, other people show serious symptoms that include pneumonia and failure of the respiratory system. The groups that can easily succumb to the ailment are old people and those with underlying health complications.

Since the disease is caused by contaminated respiratory droplets, the World Health Organization came up with a raft of measures that were meant to control its spread. The first was that people should maintain a physical distance of at least one meter as it is easy for the virus to spread when people are close to one another. Besides, it became important for people to maintain a high level of respiratory hygiene.

PPE Masks

PPE Masks have been in use for a while now as a means to curb the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory ailments. The masks are meant to block the spread of contaminated respiratory droplets from one person to another. However, you should know that the effectiveness of these masks varies depending on the design, the material used to make them, and how careful you are when using the masks. How do they compare when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus? Here are the important facts that you need to understand:

Different Cloth Face Masks and How They Work 

When people are in public settings, they’re expected to wear masks. It is a guideline that is used in addition to the other recommendations to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People wear different types of cloth masks. What are these PPE Masks and how good are they?

  • Bandanas

They are clothes that are in the shape of triangles or squares and are mostly worn to cover sections of the head and neck. Cowboys use them to prevent dust particles from entering their noses and mouths. Besides, they also protect against entry of contaminated respiratory droplets.

When one doesn’t wear any clothing on their mouths and noses, droplets from sneezes and coughs can travel a distance of 8 feet. The distance is reduced by half with a bandana. However, you should know that they may not be effective with tiny droplets as the bandanas have many pores. An FFP3 Medical Mask is helpful with small droplets.

FFP3 Medical Mask

  • T-shirt Masks

If you have ever conducted an online search, you must have found tons of video tutorials on how to make a mask using an old t-shirt. It’s an affordable way of making a face mask. However, researches show that these face masks are not that effective. Surgical masks are three times more effective than masks made from old t-shirts.

Are there any advantages to t-shirt masks? First, they are more comfortable because most t-shirt materials are stretchy and can fit on any type of face. Besides, it’s possible to increase their effectiveness by making a mask with several layers.

  • Cloth masks bought from stores

The design of the cloth mask you buy determines its effectiveness in blocking contaminated respiratory droplets. Medical experts recommend that you should purchase one with three or more fabric layers. A good cloth face mask offers 50% protection or more. The ones made with top-quality materials offer between 80% and 95% protection.

A cloth mask with a thin material can still guarantee 10% to 20% protection against respiratory viral infections. Therefore, it is advisable to use such in a case where one doesn’t have access to more superior PPE Masks. They can protect you.

How do the cloth masks differ in their protection against respiratory ailments? A hybrid cloth mask made from a combination of cotton and chiffon offers 80% in case of small respiratory particles. For large particles, the mask offers 90% protection.

The World Health Organization recommends that people should use cloth masks with 3 layers. With the inner layer, the mask absorbs exhaled particles. The middle layer is for filtration while the outer layer is to prevent the entry of contaminated respiratory materials from the air into the system of the wearer.

Cone-Styled Respiratory Masks and How They Help 

The masks protect the mouth and nose from the entry of contaminated respiratory droplets. They have small metal strips that you can adjust so that it fits into your nose bridge. The face masks are less effective compared to the cloth masks. However, they are better than bandanas.

How Much Protection Do Surgical Masks Offer? 

The masks are thin and are light blue. According to research, they prevent the inhalation of 60% of small respiratory particles. Wearing these masks can prevent the spread of different respiratory diseases including Covid-19. Ideally, they should be used once and disposed of.

They are made with small metal strips at the top which you can shape to fit your nose. While some have elastic bands that you loop behind the ear, others are fastened behind the head using a straight tie. You are the one to choose the design that suits you.

Surgical masks are thrice more effective in protecting you from contracting respiratory ailments when compared to homemade cloth masks. However, they are mainly reserved for health workers. A medical professional can also use an FFP3 Medical Mask.

How Good Are N95 and KN95 Respirators?

WHO, the World Health Organization recommends that medical professionals handling Covid-19 patients should use N95 masks. It’s because they are the most effective face respirators. First, they filter out more than 90% of the particles one inhales. Because the demand for N95 and KN95 masks currently outstrips supply, these masks are reserved for medical professionals.

The KN95 masks are manufactured in China and use Chinese standards. N95, on the other hand, is made following the US specifications. You should be careful as you purchase these masks as there are fake ones in the market. Besides, you can always use an FFP3 Medical Mask here in the UK.

The masks come in different shapes and designs. Fit-testing is an important procedure before you purchase one. If you wear an ill-fitting one, you may not be fully protected. Moreover, children can’t use these masks.

How Do You Increase the Effectiveness of the Face Masks? 

Masking is an important part of preventing the spread of respiratory ailments. When you wear the wrong mask or fail to follow the right procedure before wearing, when you have it on, or when removing it, you may not achieve the stated levels of effectiveness. What should you do to ensure that you are safe?

Consistently Wear Face Masks 

Some people are forgetful and may not wear masks all the time. Provided you are in a public area, you should ensure you wear a mask. You never know when you can come into contact with contaminated respiratory droplets.

Follow Other Guidelines Given from the Health Professionals 

As you wear the mask, you should adhere to the other guidelines. For instance, wash your hands and maintain social distance.

Proper Handling of the Face Mask Is Necessary 

First, choose a mask that suits you. Avoid touching the mask once you have it on. If you are using a cloth mask, wash it frequently.