Masks are necessary products that have helped people to counter the spread of airborne diseases and the novel COVID 19. People wear different types of masks depending on their availability when they are performing some activities within people. So, are the masks effective, and what is the best type to use for the public and health officers?
The N95 respirators are professionally designed to offer maximum protection against respiratory diseases to the health workers. They have a tight seal that filters and blocks 95% of droplets of liquid on the air that is breathed in. The N95 mask is very effective when fitted professionally and the health workers who wear it are inspected by their specialized experts to ensure they provide better protection. These respirators are effective in protecting the health officer and the people around him/her. N95 masks are made with several layers of pie polypropylene fibers that utilize the static energy to absorb all the particles which are coming around the face. The Centre for Diseases and Control recommends N95 to health workers only but not the community.
A surgical mask is a disposable protective cover that protects the mouth and nose as a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during medical operations and surgeries. They are designed to be only used once and disposed of after wearing them.
Some of the surgical masks are labeled as isolation, dental, medical procedural respiratory. They are made in different thicknesses and sizes to protect against particles that could pass through the nose and mouth when the medical officers are on their duties. Research published at Aerosol Science and Technology revealed that surgical face masks can filter up to 60% of droplets, sprays, and splatters that carry germs that try to enter the nose during breathing.
As the name suggests, cloth masks are made of fabric materials. Respiratory Infection experts argue that the thicker the layers of the fabric the better the mask will help to block any sort of harmful droplets that may carry infections. They capture any droplets of a person when he sneezes, coughs, or talks. This type of mask can be washed and reused. However, the people who wear these kinds of masks are advised to avoid touching them unless they are washing and when they touch accidentally, they should consider sanitizing with alcoholic substances and wash their hands thoroughly. When it becomes dirty because of being used for several days, owners should consider disposing of it. The tight woven fabrics such as cotton are recommended for making cloth masks.
Face shields are basically used to cover and protect the face to the wearer. They are designed with transparent sheets of plastic that cover the headband up to the chin. Before the COVID 19 was reported, they were used by health caregivers undertaking procedures that may involve fluid splatter such as dentists. The face shields are suitable in providing protection when a person is near other people, but they may not provide the high protection against participles like the other masks. There is no known research about the efficiency of face shields in their capacity to protect airborne diseases.
Wearing masks has been prevalent to the health professionals but with the emergency of COVID 19, the World Health Organization advised the general public to use masks as it is one of the ways that can reduce the risks of contracting highly infectious diseases. It is important to note that face masks are not recommended to children and are not fashionable but are worn for certain reasons such as protection from viruses to ensure the community remains safe!