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It goes without saying that the ongoing global health crisis has drastically changed the way we live our lives—more than anyone could ever imagine. Before the outbreak, the only things we had to take particular note of when going out were our wallet, keys, and IDs. These days, we also have to make sure that we bring hand sanitizers or small bottles of disinfectant, and most importantly, face masks.
According to a particular study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the pandemic triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks every month, and it's easy to see how the number could easily go this high. Following the World Health Organization’s advice, many governments around the world have made it a requisite for their citizens to wear face masks in public spaces. Here in the US; California, New York, Michigan, and 33 other states issued orders requiring people to wear face masks as the daily new cases continue to balloon.
Face masks have also become mandatory in the Philippines, along with cashless payments, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. This is on top of several city-wide and regional lockdowns that have been implemented since March. In the UK, face coverings have also become compulsory in public transport systems, shops, restaurants, schools, and supermarkets. Failure to adhere to this regulation, that’s being observed throughout the region, would result in a fine that can go up to £100 ($129.53) in England, or £60 ($77.72) in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
In the face of these regulations, it becomes even more important for each and every one of us to be more attentive to the kind of face masks we use. Based on the latest forecast from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, over 33,000 deaths could have been avoided by October 1 if 95% of the population wore adequate masks in public. The effectiveness of such face coverings in reducing viral transmission greatly varies depending on the material it is made of.
For instance, fitted N95 masks that are made from synthetic plastic let out the fewest droplets, while basic three-layer surgical masks made of nonwoven fabric and extra-fine glass fibers or synthetic microfibers come in second. Masks that are more available to the public also vary in effectiveness. In a report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was shown that simple, thin, and one-layered cloth masks do little in protecting anyone from the virus. For cloth masks to be able to provide reasonable protection, they should have at least three layers.
As mentioned in ‘3 Fabrics That Can Be Used to Make a Face Mask’, some of the best materials that you could use for your masks are elastics that provide durability and polyester, cotton and bamboo cloth that could serve as a filtration layer that controls humidity and breathability. If you want, you can also invest in a hydrophobic outer layer such as the ProCool Hydrophobic Fabrics that allows quick-drying and wicks out inner moisture.
Knitted fabrics might also be a good choice. Although multiple studies have shown that knitted fabric masks are among the least effective masks when it comes to keeping substantial amounts of particles from being emitted by the wearer. A more recent study by researchers from Northeastern University proved that some inter-knitted fabrics like ProCool Performance Fabric can be 72% more effective than an N95 respirator when combined with Zorb 3D Stay Dry Dimple.
Although masks made from cloth don’t offer the same level of protection that medical face masks do, the public is still encouraged to use them to ease the shortage in supplies still being felt by healthcare professionals across the globe.
Despite how tempting it may be to just use any kind of mask to simply comply with the rules and regulations, take the time to ensure that you and your family only use safe face masks. This simple trick will not only ensure that you and your loved ones are protected, but it will also enable you to protect others and contribute to the efforts being done to slow down the spread of the virus.
Specially written for Wazoodle.com
By: Rozmin Jazelle