This Blog Is Enough For The Confusion About Masks

November 19,2021

When COVID-19 came, the mask was sold out overnight and it was hard to buy. But do you really understand the mask? What are the types of masks? What's the difference? Which mask has the best effect on blocking the spread of the virus? Can you reuse it? Will the expiratory valve reduce the protective effect... We have summarized 10 key questions and answers about masks, hoping to sweep away your doubts about masks in this virus rampant season.


breathing mask


  1. Is wearing a mask really useful?


The answer is no doubt: it really works!


Whether from the perspective of epidemiology or clinical research, there is a lot of evidence that wearing masks correctly can effectively prevent the spread of the virus.


It was published in the International Journal of infectious diseases in 2008. A clinical study concluded that masks can effectively prevent the spread of the virus when used correctly. If children with influenza at home can use masks correctly, the possibility of their families being diagnosed with the virus is reduced by 80%.


Another study published in the annals of Internal Medicine reported similar results. The researchers investigated 400 influenza patients. They found that if the families of these patients often washed their hands and wore surgical masks, the risk of influenza was reduced by 70%.


However, the researchers also found that using masks alone without washing hands often did not reduce the risk. Therefore, wearing masks and washing hands frequently should be carried out at the same time, both of which are indispensable.


  1. How to wear masks correctly?


Not as long as you put on a mask, you can worry free and stay away from the virus. The correct wearing method recommended by the health and epidemic prevention center of the Hong Kong Department of health should be divided into five steps: selection - washing - confirmation - cover - sticking.


Selection: choose a mask of appropriate size for your face size;


Washing: clean hands before wearing masks;


Confirmation: confirm the integrity of the mask, front and back sides and up and down directions. For example, the colored side should be outward, and the side with metal strip should be upward;


Cover: the nose, mouth and chin shall be tightly covered;


Sticking: those with metal strips shall be pressed by hand along both sides of the nose bridge to ensure tightness.


  1. Types of masks


There are actually two kinds of masks we usually call: mask and respirator. The N95 respirator recently mentioned by everyone is a common respirator.


The filtering effect of various masks is closely related to the particle size to be filtered. The popular coronavirus particles are spherical with a diameter of about 0.125 microns, but the virus usually spreads by relying on small particles such as droplets and dust. Droplets naturally produced by human beings (such as droplets produced by breathing, speaking, sneezing and coughing) include various cells, physiological electrolytes in mucus and saliva, as well as potential infectious agents (such as bacteria, fungi and viruses). Published data show that sneezing can produce up to 40000 droplets with a diameter of 0.5 – 12 microns.


  1. Differences between ordinary masks, surgical masks and N95 masks


  • Mask


Ordinary masks, also known as masks, are loose disposable devices that form a physical barrier around the wearer's mouth and nose to separate potential pollutants in the surrounding environment. Different masks have different uses and thicknesses, different protective effects on people, and different wearing comfort.


The common cotton masks and sponge masks are very simple in composition and are pressed by different fibers with limited protective effect. Most surgical masks are self-priming filter masks. Their working principle is to make the air containing harmful substances filtered through the filter material of the mask and then inhaled or exhaled by people.


  • Surgical mask


The standard surgical mask is divided into three layers: the outer layer is a water barrier to prevent liquid splashing, the middle layer is a filter layer, which can block 90% of 5 micron particles, and the inner layer is used to absorb the liquid and moisture released by the wearer. Surgical masks are suitable for the basic protection of medical personnel or related personnel.


If properly worn, surgical masks can block droplets, spray or spatter entrance to the mouth and nose containing viruses and bacteria. It also helps to reduce the splashing of saliva and respiratory secretions on others, so as to prevent infection. However, surgical masks are not designed to filter or block small particles (less than 5 microns) in the air, which may be spread by coughing, sneezing or some medical procedures. Because the surgical mask and face patch are loose and not tight, the surgical mask can not completely protect the entry of bacteria, viruses and other pollutants into the wearer's mouth and nose.


  • N95 mask


N95 respirator actually belongs to a respirator. Respirator is a kind of respiratory protective equipment. Compared with ordinary respirators, it fits the face more closely and can filter particles in the air very effectively. Where, n represents not resistant to oil, which can be used to protect non oily suspended particles; 95 means that the filtration efficiency is greater than or equal to 95%, indicating that after careful testing, this respirator can block at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron level) test particles.


If worn correctly, the filtering capacity of N95 is better than the ordinary mask and surgical mask mentioned above. However, even if the wearer fully meets the requirements, the risk of infection, disease or death cannot be 100% eliminated.


  1. Are there any pros and cons of disposable masks? Will wearing anti-wearing affect the preventive effect?


The surgical mask is divided into three layers: inside, outside and inside. Ordinary disposable masks generally have both positive and negative sides. Usually, the outer layer prevents liquid splashing, and the inner layer is a water absorbing soft surface, so wearing them reversely will affect the effectiveness. You can check whether it is worn correctly according to the following methods:


Touch feeling: the soft absorbent side faces inward, and the rough waterproof side faces outward;


Metal edge of nose bridge: the exposed surface of metal faces outward, while the wrapped surface faces inward;


Ear hanging thread: generally, the tailor's thread is on the outside;


Look at the color: generally, white faces inward, and the colored part faces outward.


  1. Will the exhalation valve affect the protective effect of N95 mask?


N95 is divided into two types: with or without expiratory valve. For people with chronic respiratory disease, heart disease or other diseases with dyspnea symptoms, using N95 respirator may make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe. Therefore, using N95 mask with exhalation valve can make them easier and help reduce heat accumulation.


The exhalation valve is exquisitely designed. There are several layers of covers. When inhaled, the cover will close tightly to ensure that no particles enter. When exhaling, the flap will open to let the hot and humid air out. At the same time, there is a soft cover inside to ensure that no small particles enter.


  1. Is the N95 disposable?


In fact, all N95 respirators are disposable. The safe reuse of N95 is affected by many factors, such as the risk of infection. However, under special circumstances, unless the product manual of the mask specifically emphasizes "single use only", it can be reused in daily use, but this practice is risky. The most obvious point is that the outside of N95 has actually been polluted, but users do not realize that repeated use has the risk of infection.


  1. Can PM2.5 mask prevent virus infection?


PM2.5 refers to particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, while the term "PM2.5 mask" is not rigorous. Different anti haze masks should be analyzed on a case by case basis. For example, the folding valved anti particle masks of 3M9001 and 3M9002 commonly used by us meet the requirements of GB2626-2006 KN90, which means that in the experiment of particle test, it can block at least 90% (0.3 micron level) of test particles. Although the effect is slightly inferior to N95, it is also much better than ordinary disposable masks. The 3m8210 recommended by more people itself meets the kn95 standard, so it can be used to prevent virus infection.


Generally speaking, if you don't know how to deal with the "PM2.5 mask" in your opponent, it is recommended to query its product specifications and then judge whether to use it.


  1. What should you do after the mask is used?


If the mask is damaged or dirty, it should be replaced with a new one. If you are in an infectious environment, please wrap it up and discard it, or throw it into the trash can for infectious waste disposal in the hospital, and wash your hands or disinfect it immediately. Even if there is no infectious problem, in order to protect yourself and others, it is recommended to put it in a plastic bag and then put it in the trash can. Similarly, please remember to wash your hands and disinfect after treatment.


  1. Will the mask expire?


Most disposable N95 respirators have a shelf life, which is also related to storage conditions.


The following two points should be noted during storage:


  • Always keep the respirator in its original packaging;


  • The place where respirators are stored should avoid contaminated areas, dust, direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive humidity and harmful chemicals.




  • In terms of design, if it is ranked according to the priority of the wearer's own protection ability (from high to low): N95 mask > surgical mask > ordinary medical mask > ordinary cotton mask.


  • If you are a virus carrier, please choose N95 without expiratory valve. Don't spread the virus.


  • Please buy N95 which is produced formally and meets the test standard! Beware of fake goods!


Masks are not everything, but wearing masks correctly and washing hands frequently can greatly reduce the probability of infection. You can choose the most suitable mask according to your environment (the probability of infection with the virus).


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