The Mask Debate: Cloth Masks Not Up To Scratch
How Well Do Cloth Masks Protect Against COVID-19?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in the use of cloth, reusable masks to protect the wearer from infection. However, the use of cloth masks has been under debate since the beginning and now, with the spread of Omicron, the effectiveness of cloth masks has come under stricter scrutiny. Particularly as the CDC has updated its guidance on masks, stating that cloth masks are the least effective for protecting against COVID and that N95 respirators or 3-ply surgical masks should be used instead.
Cloth masks may often be the only option available. However, the CDC says that they should be chosen only as a last resort. Their advice states, “Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.”
Another common issue with cloth masks is the fit. Cloth masks can be made from a variety of different fabrics and come in a range of styles, many of which don’t provide an adequate fit over the wearer’s nose, mouth and chin. The gaps in an ill-fitting mask can let in air with respiratory droplets, while a loose-fitting mask also increases the need to touch the mask and the likelihood of passing respiratory droplets to the wearer’s face.
What Types of Masks are Most Protective Against COVID-19?
Per the above quote from the CDC, they recommend ditching cloth masks and opting for well-fitting respirators (including N95 and FFP2 masks), for the highest level of protection against COVID-19.
Respirators are most effective because they are designed to achieve a very close facial fit and provide highly efficient filtration of airborne particles, as they clean particles out of the air as the wearer breathes. The majority of publically available respirators are disposable and need to be discarded regularly.
Going one step further, ViraCoat’s FFP2 face mask incorporates innovative Neutrapodal™ Technology, which not only protects against airborne particles but effectively eliminates 99.9% of the virus within 5 minutes of contact. As the only mask on the market that uses this technology, ViraCoat’s face masks add a superior level of defence compared to all other options currently available.
One factor influencing the rise of cloth masks during the COVID pandemic is concerns regarding the impact of disposable masks on the environment, with such high volumes being used and ending up as medical waste. Because of the virucidal properties of the ViraCoat masks, they are able to be worn for longer and require less frequent disposal. Based on the current mask usage rates, this has the potential to save millions of tonnes of additional masks ending up in landfills and oceans each year.
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