Carpet cloth

Is your cloth mask good enough to keep Covid at bay? Think twice: The Tribune India

New Delhi, January 24

The Covid-19 pandemic has resurfaced, and if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that the coronavirus shouldn’t be taken for granted. And, while face masks have become a necessity amid the two-year pandemic, many people are still unsure which masks to use. Some of these questions have resurfaced in the wake of the discovery of Omicron, a highly transmissible variation.

Let’s take a look at the right masks that can help keep Omicron at bay and what are the effective mask wearing rules that should be followed.

To get started, it’s important to understand the distinctions between cloth masks, surgical masks, and respirators. A cloth mask is a loose-fitting mask that forms a physical barrier between the wearer’s mouth and nose and potentially harmful substances in the immediate area. A surgical mask is a three-layer mask worn by medical professionals during surgical procedures. N95 respirators, on the other hand, are personal protective equipment that protects the user’s respiratory system against airborne particles and aerosols.

N95/FFP2 provides a high level of protection against influenza, infections and other airborne viruses. N95/FFP2 masks are typically five-layered with electrostatically charged meltblown filters that provide adequate protection against airborne particle aerosols as small as 0.3 microns and have been rigorously tested for many circumstances of transmission. This implies that it can filter the majority of bacterial, viral and particulate aerosols. These masks are designed to fit snugly, which means that leakage from the sides of the mask is reduced. According to recent data from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) in the United States, N95 masks provide fifty-five times more protection against infection transmission between two people than two people wearing cloth masks.

A good quality BIS approved FFP2 mask, such as Savlon, has a splash resistant outer layer, a sweat or moisture resistant inner layer and one or more electrostatically charged melt blown filter layers, which are similar to an N95 mask. Melt Blown Filters with electrostatic charges improve masks ability to capture infectious aerosols and are the differentiator when it comes to achieving high levels of filtering while still allowing easy breathing.

Appropriate use

According to studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a surgical mask prevented 59% of respiratory aerosols from a cough, while a three-layer cotton mask blocked 51. % and an N95 mask blocks up to 95% of these particles.

After learning about the benefits, it is important to know how to use respirators correctly. Outdoors or when crowded indoors, masks should be worn with caution, ensuring they cover the nose and mouth and plug any holes. Double masking should be avoided if wearing an FFP2 or N-95 mask. Instead, consider wearing a multi-layered N-95 mask like the Savlon FFP2 S mask, which has a five-layer filtering system.

Before leaving, a little reminder – While wearing masks, any masks –

1. Perform hand hygiene before wearing and after removing the mask.

2. Ensure an optimal fit and perfect seal for complete protection – with no side gaps.

3. Make sure the coverage extends from the bridge of your nose to below your chin.

4. Avoid repeatedly touching or adjusting your mask. IANS