After six months since we first heard of COVID-19, we are still being plagued by this virus. One model predicts that 410K people will die by January. A grim picture indeed. What makes it so frustrating is that we still don’t know much about this virus, like how it originated and how long it would stick around. However, some of the measures we are taking appear to be working: like wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing, so for our benefit we should continue to do those things.
I came across some expert answers from Consumer Lab.com that can help you make some informed decisions regarding masks: why we should wear them, when and how to wear them and what to look for when buying a mask.
Why wear a mask?
As mentioned above, wearing a mask, when coupled with social distancing, provides additional protection from infecting others as well as exposure. Studies showed that using a face mask provides an 85% reduction in the risk of infection than if you didn’t wear a mask.
Should you wear a face mask at home?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend wearing a mask at home, but if a family member develops the virus, the transmission rate was 79% lower when other family members wore a mask prior to the first developing symptoms, according to a study in Beijing. The researchers recommended use of face masks in families in which a member has been at risk of getting infected.
Best combination of materials for making a mask
You can make a cloth mask from things you have around the house: an old tee shirt, face towel, bandana or scarf. However, if you want to be real particular about your mask, you can follow these World Health Organization (WHO)guidelines, which recommend using three layers of material to give you the best protection and breathablilty.
- Innermost layer should be made of a material that can absorb moisture such as cotton or cotton blend.
- Middle layer should be one that repels moisture such as polypropylene. This comes in different weights and is sold in retail stores under such brand names as Oly* fun and Pellon. Polypropylene is used to make disposable surgical masks. You may also use a high thread count cotton, which provides good filtration.
- The outermost layer can be made of polypropylene, or polyester blends.
What to look for when buying a mask
- The mask should fit snugly over your nose and mouth and leave no gaps where viruses can enter.
- To reduce air leakage around a mask, a study at a Northeastern University in Boston showed that pulling an 8 to 10-inch tube of nylon (cut from a queen-sized nylon stocking) over a regular mask to the top of the neck helped reduce leakage around the mask and improved filtration efficacy, making the mask almost as good as an N-95 respirator.
- Look for masks with nose wires that can bend or adjust to fit properly over your nose, important for people who wear glasses or hearing aids.
For more information on how to select a mask, wear and clean it, please visit the CDC website.
Below are some masks, disposable as well as reusable, that you may be interested in. These are all affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase, I will receive a commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything more. Thank you!
Meanwhile, how are you and your family keeping healthy during this pandemic? What questions would you like to have answered? If you drop me a line, I promise I will do my best to find the answers for you. Until next time, stay safe and stay positive. This will be over one day.