What is the best face mask to wear in the pandemic?
cloth mask, silk mask, surgical mask... Are you wearing the best type to fight the spread of COVID-19.
With the recent face mask rule in many cities, wearing face masks seem to be a norm nowadays. While in some cities, wearing face masks in public places, specially in outdoor areas may seem alien to most of them. In fact, in most Asia countries like Japan, Hong Kong etc. People have been adapting to this unwritten courtesy since February.
From face-mask wearer getting verbally and physically attacked in public to getting a law enforcement to wear one. COVID-19 has been shedding lights on not only cultural conflicts, but also on different ideologies about public health.
Back in February, since the virus first broke out in Asia, many people outside Asia will see Asian people who wear a face mask as a sick person. As the news reported, some fights have happened in the subway station of New York simply because they saw an Asian wearing face mask.
Little did they know, in Asia, people have the idea that wearing face mask is a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since the virus can spread through aerial transmission, wearing a face mask is a way to protect themselves. While in most western countries, people think that masks are only for the sick.
Luckily, the ideology behind the function of a face mask has slowly been accepted by more people outside Asia, though they may not see a face mask as their own protective gear, they would see it as a chance to help to stop the spread of the virus, which is a good sign. However, most people are using fabric face masks, as an option to leave the surgical masks to medical workers, it brings us to a question, can the type of mask worn by the mass people actually prevent the spread of the virus effectively?
Celebrities and even fashion runway models have been embracing the face mask culture. However, most of them are wearing reusable fabric masks.
That being said, the fashion industry continues to seize the chance of producing high quality silk mask which is good to the skin. However, is it good in protecting our health or are we solely wearing it to look stylish?
It is great to protect the environment on one hand, but on the other hand, let's look at the effectiveness of a fabric & silk mask :
Fabric masks and silk mask both allow air in, but lack non-woven, moisture-repelling layers which the 3-ply surgical mask can offer. When one cough or sneeze, the water droplets will also let out some air particles called microbes which continue to carry the virus/bateria to a further area. If that person is close to you, wearing a fabric face mask does prevent most of the microbes/water droplets into your mask. But since fabric alone is water-absorbing, most respiratory droplets can just pass through the fabric mask easily.
However, the 3-ply surgical mask has a filter layer which is called melt blow filter. This filter acts as a barrier to germs. The inner layer aids in moisture absorption while the outer layer acts as a fluid repellent.
As such, a 3-ply surgical mask would be the best in preventing the spread of virus. If you are wearing a mask and you sneeze, you water droplets will be absorbed by the inner layer of your mask. And if a person sneeze but you are wearing a surgical mask, the chance of getting infected is much lower than fabric masks since the middle layer and outer layer will double defend the germs and fluid.
If you can get your hand onto melt blow filter and add it to your fabric mask, that would be better than fabric mask alone. But since we would not know the exact type of filter brands are adding to their fabric masks, it is safe to say the most effective face mask would be surgical mask.
To see if you mask is effective or not, simply get a spray bottle, put some water in it and spray it directly to your mask. If water goes through the mask, you can imagine what would happen if that is from a persons' sneeze. If the water doesn't pass. Congratulations, you have found your perfect mask.
Most importantly, even you have the face mask with you, the crucial thing is to wear it properly: covering both your nose and mouth. Have you checked if you face mask is effective or not?