The pandemic has brought about an entirely new industry for personal protective equipment. Things such as masks that were previously worn almost exclusively by medical personnel are now in popular demand. This increase in necessity has led creators to fashion all sorts of face masks aside from the standard disposables that have always been available. Now there are bandanas, cloth masks, face shields, and more that people are using to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 virus. The controversy has come when some people start to question the effectiveness of different types of masks, which is explained in this article.
There are a number of cloth mask options: bandanas, made at home masks, t-shirt masks, and masks with a filter. They all bring certain pros to the table—breathability, easy to wash, fun colors or patterns—but there can be some downsides to these as well. For example, bandanas are great at reducing things that can enter your respiratory system, but when you cough or sneeze, particles can still travel about four feet into the space around you. Homemade cloth masks don’t do much for keeping particles out of the air, but they can drastically decrease how far those particles can spread, which is why they’re so important with an airborne illness. The more layers you add to a cloth mask, however, the more effective it will be, and if you put a filter in the mix too, then you’re odds are even better of keeping the spread of the germs to a minimum.
The traditional disposable mask has been used in surgeries and medical practices for years because of its ability to block out most particles and reduce the spray of particles from your mouth. There are also the cone disposable masks, but these tend to fall somewhere in between cloth masks and bandanas as far as effectiveness. The N95 masks are considered the best pandemic protection because they filter 95 percent of particles from the air, keeping your breathing air clean within the mask. It is generally recommended, however, to reserve these masks for people working in healthcare so those on the front lines are most protected.
Choosing a mask quickly became a diverse choice at the onset of the pandemic, flooding the market with new options every day. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of every option can help you to pick the right mask for you.