To stop the widespread of coronavirus it has been compulsory to wear a mask, especially when you are in public. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also urged the public to make their own mask by using 3 layers of any cloth.
A recent report of ICMR has suggested that N-95 mask with valve is not effective to coronavirus because if any infected person is wearing the N-95 mask, the virus droplet can easily come out from the valve present in it. Also if it is more than a month old and washed more than 4-5 times then it is of no use as the virus stuck on the valve can easily go inside the person wearing it.
So you may ask a question whether your surgical or cloth mask actually work or not. What should you look for, when buying a mask to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do?
And more importantly, how can you test the one you’ve bought or made? Just give 3 min to this article and you will be safe in this pandemic.
Cloth masks are non-medical devices. But they are effective enough to stop coronavirus if designed reasonably.
- If you’re buying one online or making one yourself, check how many layers it has. A single-layered mask is better than no covering, but two layers are better than one, and three layers are better than two. Three layers or more are preferred.
- Look for a fine weave, high thread count and dense material. Flimsy or see-through material, or material with large gaps, is not adequate because droplets and aerosols can pass through the gaps.
- For a cloth mask, pure cotton is not a good choice for the outer layer, as it is absorbent. If someone else is coughing and sneezing near you, you want your mask to block those droplets rather than enable them to pass through the mask and infect you. A polyester or cotton-polyester blend is a better choice for this outer layer.
- So for cloth masks, aim for at least three layers, including a water-resistant outer layer. The inner layer can be cotton, as that makes it more comfortable to wear because it will absorb moisture from your breathing.
Check also that your mask fits well around your face. If you have gaps around the edges of your mask, you can breathe in unfiltered, contaminated air.
- Look to see if there’s a nose bridge piece or other adjustable edges to help mould the mask around your nose and the top of your cheeks.
And remember to wash your cloth mask daily.
How can you test your mask at home?
- Test for good filtration and fit
For filtration and fit, you can do some rather time-consuming experiments at home.
But a much simpler method is the candle test, popularised by US science educator Bill Nye. If you can blow out a candle while wearing your mask, that’s a fail.
It means your mask doesn’t adequately stop the flow of air. If you can blow air out, air can also leak inward just as easily.
- Test for water resistance
The virus is carried on water droplets expelled when infected people talk, cough and sneeze. If these droplets land on your mask, you want the outer layer to repel them.
A IS (Indian Standard)-approved mask will be water-resistant. But you can test other masks too on your own at home.
If a drop of water on the outside surface is absorbed straight away, that’s a fail. If the drop forms a bead, the mask is water-resistant.
It doesn’t matter whether you go for a surgical mask that’s an approved medical device, an unapproved surgical mask, or a cloth mask if you follow these simple tips you can be sure about your protection.
Thanks: share this information with your loved once to help them in this pandemic and do not waste much money to buy a branded mask, just test by yourself and be sure.