How to Choose a Suitable Mask and the Guide on How and When to Wear It
While there are a lot of uncertainties in terms of current condition regarding the dynamics of COVID-19 cases, we are still able to make certain of what we should do for ourselves. In terms of protecting yourself and others when you need to make contact or be around people in public area, it is best to understand and know what kind of mask is highly-effective to be worn daily, as well as how you are supposed to wear it and when to wear it.
In order to understand which mask we should wear for different events that occur during our daily routines, first, we need to follow the guide on when, how, and why we should wear a certain type of mask.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF WEARING A MASK
- DO: Wear a Tight-Seal Mask
This is the most important thing to remember when you choose a mask: check how it covers your nose and mouth. An effective mask would fit nicely against the sides of your face and would not show gaps.
- DO: Check the Certification and Quality of the Mask
Keep calm and study the quality of the mask you plan to buy. It might take some time to process the information and there are a lot of updates about the effectiveness of a certain type of mask against coronavirus, but it’s definitely worthy to know more. Take control of this uncertain condition and know your mask. Keeping that in mind, find out more about masklab’s products and how we tested them.
Find time to understand about masks in these articles: COVID-19 and mask: Tips for families by World Health Organization (WHO) and Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks.
- DON’T: Touch the Front of the Mask
If you touch the front of your mask, wash your hands immediately. Adjust the mask safely using the ear loops.
The culprit of this bad habit would be when people feel like they need to adjust the mask and therefore risking themselves with infections as the front of the mask is contaminated. That’s why a good fit in a mask is crucial to break this bad habit.
- DON’T: Reuse the Mask when It’s Damp due to Saliva, Stained by Make-Up, or Other Liquid Substances
Fact: The mask needs to be sterile for the user. So, you need to wear dry and clean mask all the time. Be considerate while you’re wearing a mask. If the mask you’ve been wearing feels damp after several hours, either wet by saliva, stained by make-up, liquids substances, or even has a hole or torn on some part of the mask, you should replace it right away.
If you wear a cloth mask, you need to wash it immediately after each use. Remove the cloth mask from its ear loops and wash it.
- DON’T: Use Mask with Valves
A mask with exhalation valves or vents allow virus particles to escape. It does not slow down the spread of COVID-19. Click to watch a video created by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researcher engineer Matthew Staymates using a schlieren imaging system. It shows airflow dynamics when wearing an N95 mask with an exhalation valve and without an exhalation valve.
TYPES OF MASK
Talking about masks, we need to think through the condition we’re currently in, and the quality and authenticity of a mask. Take a look at the differences between masklab’s Korean Style Respirator (KF Series), N95, KN95, KF94 and Surgical Mask in order to choose a mask which best fits the occasion:
Feature Image: Grey Camouflage from KF Series
- KF SERIES by masklab
masklab’s KF Series consist of Korean Style Respirators made in Hong Kong, featuring 95% filtration rate, durable, breathable and water-resistant fabric that ensures maximum comfort and usability. All masklab products are produced in ISO-Certified Cleanroom with state-of-the-art NCM machines from Taiwan.
KF Series have been tested by two labs in two different standards: SGS for the most stringent EU PPE mask standard EN 149, and STC for US's standard ASTM F2100. masklab masks have achieved EN 149 FFP2 and ASTM F2100 Level 3. Click here to find out more about it.
KF Series is highly-effective to be used by the public, especially when in an environment with mid to high risk of transmission. Why? The fact is, masklab’s KF Series has gone through EN149 tests for leakage. EN149 standard (European Standard) is more stringent than KN95 (which has the N95 U.S. Standard).
N95 Respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. It was invented by a Taiwanese-American scientist who created the synthetic fabric used to make N95 respirators. The mask is dedicated to workers in healthcare setting due to its tight-seal feature, certified by the FDA and National Institure of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection.
We may use N95 mask when we are at increased risk for severe illness, for example older adults or people with certain underlying medical conditions. Other than that, using another type of highly-effective mask will be sufficient on daily basis. Click here to know more facts about N95 by FDA.
KN95 mask is a disposable face mask that’s regulated by the Chinese government. It claims to be able to filter aerosol particles up to 95%. It does not test for leakage, but an authentic KN95 mask can be used by public for an environment with low to moderate risk of transmission.
We also need to reckon a mask test result by ECRI, U.S.’s largest non-profit patient safety organization. It says nearly 70% of Chinese KN95 masks did not meet U.S. standards for filtration efficiency. Not to worry, the CDC has published a list of counterfeit respirators including companies who made KN95 masks and a guide to know the differentiation between fake and real ones. Click here.
While there are many options of mask available these days, one of the masks that is effective for daily use is KF94. According to South Korean government standards, “KF” stands for “Korean Filter” and “94” refers to filtration efficiency. KF94 is essentially the South Korean version of N95 but much more comfortable as it is molded to fit the contour of one’s face with an adjustable band around the bridge of nose. “Comparing it to an N95 which has 95% filtration efficiency, KF94 is 94 % good at filtering particles. So pretty comparable to the N95 mask,” said Ravina Kullar, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist to Huffpost. In addition, experts warn to be wary of counterfeits and suggest that KF94 masks made by South Korean manufactures who meet the testing standards may be less prone to counterfeiting.
- SURGICAL MASK
Surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. This type of mask provides barrier protection against large-particle droplets and does not effectively filter inhaled small particles, fumes, or vapors. It is primarily used to protect patients and healthcare workers from people who may have a respiratory infection or to protect sterilized or disinfected medical devices and supplies.
Feature Image: Hydrangea Garden from Surgical Mask Series
However, a 3-ply surgical mask does have better filtration rate than a cloth mask that only has two filters. You can see the differences in a video created by University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers to visualize droplets and aerosols, filming people coughing and sneezing in different scenarios: using no mask, two different types of cloth masks and a surgical mask. Click to watch.
In summary, we should be more diligent when it comes to choosing an effective mask to protect ourselves and others under all circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing a mask alone cannot prevent us from catching the virus. We need to stay on top of all measures concerning health protocols such as washing our hands frequently, keeping social distance especially in public spaces. We need to be vigilant if we want to create a safe environment for all of us.
After all, we are in this pandemic together, and only together we could end the ongoing pandemic. Keep yourself and everyone around you safe! Let’s lift each other’s spirits by joining the cause #MaskUpIndonesia in style!