How to evaluate the effectiveness of a mask

Since the beginning of the pandemic, numerous studies have successfully stated that yes, the mask is effective and protects from contagion.

Written Friday, by Emanuele Mortarotti

Welcome back to Dispotech’s blog! In today's article we are going to provide some advice on how to evaluate the effectiveness of a mask; to do so, we will refer to an interesting article posted on newseu.cgtn.com.

It has now been more than one year that we have been coexisting with the use of the mask, an object that has become indispensable in our daily lives since the Covid-19 outbreak.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, numerous studies have successfully stated that yes, the mask is effective and protects from contagion.

However, today we will try to answer some questions that many people are asking: which material to choose? In what situations is it best to use it? The answers to these questions are important mainly because now there is a very large supply of masks on the market. It is advisable to choose masks that meet regulatory standards and have been tested and approved for effectiveness. In the source article, Dr. Simon Kolstoe of the School of Health and Care Professions at the University of Portsmouth, UK, is speaking. Following are the 3 most important features to consider when buying masks.

 

Fitting

Kolstoe starts by talking about the fitting. According to WHO guidelines, it is important to wear a mask when going to a crowded place, an enclosed space or when you will be in contact with other people. In these cases, contagion is likely to occur due to the close contact with other individuals.

Wearing a mask that covers the mouth, nose and chin, therefore, will prevent our breath and any particles from reaching our interlocutor or other people nearby. So, which is the most effective mask to wear? The one that "fits" us perfectly, covering both nose and chin and that has the adjustable wire on the nose - which allows the mask to perfectly fit the shape of our face.

A good indicator of whether the mask is working properly is the fogging of the glasses when you breathe. Although it is annoying for those who wear glasses, the fact that they fog up indicates that the breath is properly diverted and the mask is doing its job well.

 

Fabric and materials

Dr. Kolstoe explains the layered composition of the masks very clearly. Each one has three layers.

  • The outer layer is hydrophobic: not completely waterproof, but still prevents water or droplets from passing through.
  • The inner layer, comparable to a sort of tissue paper, is capable of absorbing moisture.
  • The middle layer is made of a paper-like material, equally absorbent and able to retain the breath moisture exhaled.

 

There are also fabric masks. As sturdy and well-made as they may be, they must be equipped with filters, as these are the only things that will guarantee protection.

 

Packaging and certifications

To be considered effective, the mask must meet very high and certified quality standards. Therefore, Dr. Kolstoe suggests to check carefully for the presence of these certified marks before purchasing and using the masks.

In the European Union all masks must be labelled with the EC mark. In order to have the EC mark, a device must meet several standards:

  • Masks worn by medical personnel, for example, must comply with the standard EN 14683;
  • Face protection visors must comply with the standard EN 166;
  • FFP2, FFP3 or KN95 masks must comply with the requirements of the standard EN149.

 

What do you think about this article? Were you familiar with this useful information? For any information or curiosity, contact the Dispotech team!

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Emanuele Mortarotti
Author Emanuele Mortarotti

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