Do face masks really help in slowing the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer to that is yes. Wearing face masks coupled with other safety procedures, like regular hand-washing as well as social distancing, will greatly slow down the propagation of the virus that causes COVID-19. In this article, we will discuss the effectivity of various face masks when it comes to slowing down the spread of the virus. If you are looking to purchase one, you can buy KN95 face masks here. Without further ado, let’s start:
- Surgical Mask
The the main function of surgical masks is to safeguard other people from breathing droplets of the person wearing the mask. Surgical masks will also provide some protection to large breathing droplets coming from others. However, because there is no facial seal and surgical masks are not made to totally fit into the face of the wearer, it has a limited filtering function. Surgical masks do not dependably filter sufficient micro airborne contaminants. A study has discovered that surgical masks can only filter 60% of airborne contaminants. In contrast, an N95 mask will filter 95% of the same particles.
- Paper Mask
The primary function of paper masks is to provide a filter from large dust and other airborne particles such as sawdust, pollen, etc. Similar to surgical masks, they give limited protection to the person wearing the mask. Paper masks are not designed to filter smaller particles such as viruses, and they don’t have a facial seal either. Avoid using paper masks when going outside except if you have no other alternatives.
- Selfmade Fabric Mask
Fabric masks, both purchased and made at home will provide protection against large breathing droplets from other people. Most importantly, these masks limit the propagation of the wearer’s own respiratory droplets. A research has proven that coughing with a cotton face mask on will considerably decrease the quantity of COVID-19 contaminants that were expelled by the wearer.
However, similar to paper masks, self-made fabric masks do not have a tight face seal, and they are not able to reliably filter smaller airborne particles. The effectivity of cloth masks in filtering particles is highly dependant on the type of fabric that was used. A cotton t-shirt was able to filter 7 percent, while a shop towel filtered up to 19 percent. Meanwhile, fabric masks made from coffee filter were able to filter 49 percent of airborne contaminants. There are also other factors that play a part in the effectivity of fabric face masks. These include fabric thickness, how many layers are used, and if the face mask fits the face completely with no gaps.
- N95 / KN95 masks
These two are the most effective and reliable face mask when it comes to filtering particles. They can reliably filter smaller particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Both N95 and KN95 masks can filter smaller particles with 95 percent effectivity. Their difference is N95 is the standard used in the United States, while KN95 is used in China. To learn more about their differences, you can read our other article – The Difference Between N95 Masks and KN95 Masks.