Face masks offer the wearer some protection, depending on the type of mask. No mask will offer full protection, and they should not be viewed as a replacement for physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others, frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching face until hands have been washed, and avoiding crowds. When you combine masks with those measures, they can make a big difference.
Before talking about masks, it is crucial to know how COVID-19 spreads.
Droplets are large particles of liquid usually produced by someone who has coughed or sneezed. Because of their size, droplets usually do not travel very far before they fall onto a surface.
This is how transmission can occur from a contaminated surface like an elevator button or office telephone.
Aerosols, on the other hand, are extremely small particles that are so light they can be suspended in the air for an extended period of time. In addition to being spread via coughs and sneezes, aerosols can also be released by talking or breathing.
Why should you wear a mask?
Public health officials say any type of mask, even basic cloth face coverings, are a simple way to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus. Most masks are designed to prevent the wearer from spreading disease to others.
The type of mask you wear will make a difference but the CDC recommends wearing a mask of any type is the best way to help slow the spread of COVID-19. With that being said, keep in mind that not all masks are created equal.
What is the difference between KN95 masks and Surgical disposable masks?
Both of these disposable types of masks help protect against COVID-19 and come in versions authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), On paper they are very similar, both filter out most small particles and are similarly breathable. But there are essential differences between these popular face masks.
KN95 masks are disposable and the name KN95 refers to a regulatory mask standard in China. KN95 masks are designed to protect the wearer. However, due to quality concerns around some of these masks, many people are not buying and wearing them and for good reason.
Tests on KN95 masks have shown that many fail to meet basic filtration standards. The most recent major study showed that 60-70% of imported KN95 masks do not filter 95% of aerosol particulates as they are supposed to do.
There are certain KN95 masks that have been FDA approved but beware of making online purchases there are many poor-quality KN95 available and are being advertised as high-quality FDA approved.
Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting face masks that cover the nose, mouth and chin. Some masks may have a metal strip that can be formed to the nose. Surgical masks are meant to protect your mouth and nose splashes, sprays, or splatter and large-particle droplets that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria).
Standard normal masks are divided into 3 layers, outer, middle and inner. The outer layer prevents droplets from entering the mask. The middle layer has a filtering function to block > 90% of 5μm particles. The inner layer near the nose is used to absorb moisture.
What about surgical masks that are frequently for sale over the counter? Many of the blue masks sold on Amazon for example are not the surgical masks recommended by the CDC.
Make sure you research where the mask you are purchasing if coming from the type of quality and so on.
Regardless of which mask you decide to purchase, masks for public use but do not guarantee 100% protection. However, health authorities recommend wearing them while continuing to practice social distancing and proper hygiene will most definitely aid in the spread of the coronavirus. Be sure that you are making proper mask purchases with FDA cleared and approved wholesalers you can trust to get the best out of your purchase to better protect yourself and others.