FluShields Looks Into The Question Of How Safe Face Masks Really Are
You might be wondering, how safe wearing a facemask is? How can it prevent the spread of the virus? How can it ensure one's safety? Why is it important for our protection, and become mandatory to some nations? Well, you might need to learn first the different kinds of face masks available in the market and trusted suppliers, and how these facemasks should be properly used and disposed of. Without the proper knowledge about the different types of face masks and how they are used, you won't be properly protected by simply wearing them.
You should only use an N95 face mask that is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
According to the CDC, it is advised that people wear a face covering or mask to protect their nose and mouth while in the crowd. This is another form of public health that people should take to minimize the spread of COVID-19, in addition to social or physical distances, regular handwashing, and other prevention steps.
Certain types of N95 masks do NOT protect you against chemical vapors, gases, carbon monoxide, gasoline, asbestos, lead, or low oxygen environments. In addition:
- Experts say that masks protect the people wearing them but do not stop virus droplets from escaping and infecting others. This is actually the case with all masks - cotton, mesh, with/without valves, etc.
- Most non-medical face masks are designed for construction workers to use to keep out dust and other particles.
- Keep in mind: they are for basic protection, but you should always keep your distance to other people.
According to the FDA, the N95 is designed to achieve "a very close facial fit," and if properly fitted blocks "at least 95%" of very small test particles, though it doesn't completely eliminate the risk of illness.
So after knowing the right face mask to use which is highly recommended by the experts and professionals, we now need to know the evidence that wearing a facemask prevents the spread of the virus.
So, the big question is 'How safe and effective facemask is?'
There are many lines of research suggesting the effectiveness of masks.
One type of proof comes from experimental tests of respiratory droplets and the capacity of different masks to block them. An experiment using high-speed video showed that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were produced when the term was clear, but almost all of these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered with a damp washcloth. Another analysis on people with influenza or common colds showed that wearing a surgical mask greatly decreased the volume of these respiratory viruses released in droplets and aerosols.
Please check out this video which gives you some useful insights about surgical and N95 masks:
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But the best support for masks comes from real-world scenario experiments. "The most important thing is the epidemiological evidence," Rutherford said. Since it will be immoral to warn individuals not to wear masks during a pandemic, the epidemiological proof has emerged from so-called "experiments of nature."
For example, a new report published in Health Affairs compared the growth rate of COVID-19 both before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It observed that mask mandates contributed to a decline in the daily growth rate of COVID-19, which became more apparent over time. For the first five days after the mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate slowed by 2 percentage points.
Two convincing case reports also indicate that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one scenario, a man flew from China to Toronto and then tested positive for COVID-19. He was wearing a dry cough and a mask on the flight, and all 25 people nearest to him tested negative for COVID-19 on the flight. In another scenario, at the end of May, two hairstylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients when they were ill with COVID-19. All were wearing a mask, and none of the clients tested positive.
Who is protected by the facemasks: the people wearing them or the people around them?
"I think there is ample evidence to suggest that the greatest protection is for people who have COVID-19 to prevent them from giving COVID-19 to others, but you also get protection from wearing a mask if you don't have COVID-19," said Chin-Hong. Masks can be more effective as a "source control" so they can prevent larger expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can migrate faster. Another thing to consider, Rutherford noted, is that you might also receive the virus through the membranes in your eyes, a possibility that using a facemask would not prevent it.
Should everyone be wearing N95 respiratory face masks to stay safe from any virus?
Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health that the N95 is still the recommended face mask not only for health professionals because it has the capacity to filter out very small particles that could possibly contain the virus. He stated that this is different from a surgical mask which can only stop larger droplets.
"You want 100 percent of people to wear masks, but you're going to settle for 80 percent," Rutherford said. In one experiment, researchers estimated that 80 percent of the population wearing masks would do better to minimize the spread of COVID-19 than a strict lockdown. And if you live in a city where few people wear masks, you'd always reduce the odds of getting infected by wearing one, Chin-Hong and Rutherford said.
What type of mask to be needed?
Studies have compared different mask types, but comfort could be the most critical factor for the general public. The best mask is one that you can wear easily and regularly, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist in San Francisco. N95 Respirators are only used in emergency conditions such as intubation. Surgical masks are normally more protective than fabric masks, though some people find them thinner and more comfortable to wear. The bottom line is that any mask that protects the nose and mouth would be advantageous.
"The concept is risk reduction rather than absolute prevention," said Chin-Hong. "You don't throw up your hands if you don't think the mask is 100 % successful. That's crazy. Nobody is taking a cholesterol drug so they're trying to avoid a heart disease 100% all the time, but you're trying to reduce your risk significantly. However, both Rutherford and Chin-Hong warned against N95 valve masks (commonly used in construction to prevent dust inhalation) because they do not protect those around you. These one-way valves close when the wearer breathes, but open when the wearer breathes out, allowing unfiltered air and droplets to escape. Chin-Hong said that anyone wearing a valve mask would have to wear a surgical mask or a cloth mask over it. "Alternatively, just wear a non-valve mask," he said.
Good news: You can actually protect yourself as much as possible by wearing an N95 respirator face mask: Get your N95 respirator masks for the whole family today.
Disclaimer: Please note that we can only pass on general information and cannot make any guarantees or be liable for any consequences of your decision making or behavior. Use good common sense and ask your healthcare provider or physician for advice.
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