Are Disposable or Reusable Masks Better
There has been a lot of discussion around whether a reusable or disposable mask is better in the fight against COVID-19 and other viruses. While each has its pros and cons, for many there is no clear winner. Understanding where each has its drawbacks is essential to making the right decision for your health.
Reusable masks usually come in the form of cloth masks. The problem with this is that cloth masks can vary drastically in design, materials, and protection. Many experts warn against cloth masks due to the lack of protection fabrics typically used in cloth masks offer. In fact, cloth masks offer almost no protection against aerosol droplets, which means airborne viruses, like COVID-19, can still get through. However, many people still choose cloth masks to reduce waste and cost.
Textile waste is an issue around the world. The World Health Organization estimates approximately 87,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE) was procured between March 2020 and November 2021 for COVID-19 purposes, with the majority of this expected to end up in landfills around the world. A significant portion of this is made up of disposable masks.
Despite this, disposable masks are still commonly recommended for their higher level of protection, particularly if you purchase something like an N95 or FFP2 mask. Frontline workers also use surgical masks as standard. A study by university researchers in 2021 found that surgical masks are 95% effective at filtering out virus particles — compared to just 37% for cloth masks.
If you’re looking for something in between – there are solutions for that too. In order to help with environmental impact and reduce the need to change masks as often while still offering a high level of protection, new PPE for COVID is hitting the market.
One example is ViraCoat, an FFP2 mask coated with a virucidal, antimicrobial technology. Usable for extended periods of time with superior protection, the mask offers a balance between reusable and disposable. The mask consists of 5 layers, and the entire mask provides both a physical and chemical barrier to protect from the transfer of infections and kill viruses within 5 minutes of contact.