The Use Of Masks In Protecting Ourselves Against COVID 19
With the world in the midst of the global pandemic, wearing a mask has become crucial in its use to protect ourselves and those around us from the prevention of contracting Covid19. As this is a new concept to us all, the questions we face is which use of protection is sufficient in containing the virus, and will this fully protect us?
It can be said that the answer to the last question is that although masks are a useful resource in containing the virus, we know that even the most advanced surgical masks, for example, the 3M, do not offer complete protection from airborne minuscule particles estimated at around 75% in its use. Furthermore, the N95 respirator, which is used by professionals such as doctors and nurses in ICU, is designed to create a tight seal around the face and blocks out at least 95% of small particles when worn correctly.
Despite this, as epidemiological studies have demonstrated, the use of fabric face masks can reduce the spread of COVID 19’s transmission throughout the population. In a study conducted in 2008, researchers from the Netherlands, PLOS. 2020. (1) discovered that despite improvised masks are not as effective as personal respirators, they suggested that “any type of general mask use is likely to decrease viral exposure and infection risk on a population level, in spite of imperfect fit and imperfect adherence”.
Despite the fact that there is not any mask that can protect us fully, wearing a mask is crucial for the next phase of our fight against Covid19. Surgical masks are no longer on the market for ordinary consumers, this is due to the high demand for the protection of our frontline workers and the everlasting shortage of PPE, the question we are left with is what should we wear?
A recent study conducted by Northeastern University, Northeastern Environmental Sensors Lab. 2020 (2), looked at the protection offered by a range of face masks, both surgical and home-made. They found that by adding a nylon layer of pantyhose onto a fabric face mask an increase in the level of protection is given. The study suggests that when worn alone, the homemade mask's ability to filter varied widely, with some blocking fewer than 30% of particles. But adding the pantyhose layer boosted all the masks' performance by anywhere from 15% to 50%. This study shows that with some adjustments, there are effective ways to protect oneself and others from spreading Covid19.
References for further research:
- : PLOS. 2020. Professional And Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure To Respiratory Infections Among The General Population. [online] Available at: <https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0002618> [Accessed 15 June 2020].
Northeastern Environmental Sensors Lab. 2020. Tools For Real-Time Characterization Of Environmental Systems. [online] Available at: <https://www.northeastern.edu/envsensorslab/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/FernandezMueller_PreliminaryReportFacemaskTestingProtocol_2020-04-17.pdf>