Wearing a disposable face mask and other respiratory protective clothings in public is the hottest topic of discussion right now. As we write this article, there’s no reliable research to suggest wearing a face mask will help prevent or even slow the spread of coronavirus. Scientists however, have a general understanding that covering your mouth with a face mask could help protect others if you are an unknowing carrier of the dreaded coronavirus.
Trends in other countries show that we might all be forced to wear a face mask when we head out in public. However, the big question we ask ourselves, is there anywhere left still selling this priced commodity and which ones are best?
What is a Face mask?
A face mask comes in various types and is intended for use to cover the nose and mouth to prevent the inhalation or exhalation of harmful airborne particles like microbes or dust. The most common type of facemask is the surgical mask that we know is used by healthcare professionals.
A face mask can only protect you if you wear it correctly, therefore, make sure it fits well and when done using it remove it carefully with caution taken to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and ensure you wash your hands thoroughly for more than 20 seconds with soap and water.
Types of Facemasks in the Market
We have four types of masks available in the market (P100 & Full faces respirators & self contained breathing apparatus are more sophisticated so we haven’t listed them below).
- Reusable home made cloth masks i.e. for non-medical & general use,
- Surgical mask i.e. medical-grade which are used for hospital setups,
- DIY masks
- N95 respirators face masks.
This can be made at home from anything including clothes, scarfs and they are better than not using a mask in public spaces where you cannot keep some social distancing measures. They are not as effective as N95 masks and therefore, caution should be maintained whilst out and about as they provide a false sense of security.
DIY dust masks
Most DIY enthusiasts will tell how useful this product is when doing some painting and decorating or upcycling some old furniture. Areas I have used it before include sanding furniture to prevent me inhaling the wood dust, smoothing some plaster crack repair work, whilst using the chainsaw when my garden trees were overgrowing. I can list tens of scenarios I know this disposable facemask has saved my lungs. However, this is probably not effective for virus protection but at least it will help prevent you coughing onto others if you are asymptomatic. You can easily get this from screwfix and b&q on click and collect orders. A quick check whilst writing this article Screwfix is selling five-packs of dust masks (FFP3 standard) for £11.99
Disposable surgical masks cover chin, mouth and nose and normally protect the user from sprays of airborne and are very effective in the prevention of potential spread of airborne diseases from the user to the general public. Sneezing and coughing without covering the mouth can accelerate and disperse the virus upto 8 metres and therefore these masks help contain the spread thus protecting the public. This will be very useful in public transport, enclosed retail environments & shopping malls etc.
It’s called N95 because it can filter out 95 percent of very small particles which includes bacteria and viruses. Majority of N95 face masks have exhalation valves which is practical as it helps release heat and humidity whilst breathing.
N95 respirators are not ideal for children and people with facial hair but on the positive they fit-tested and therefore means it’s not a one size fits all. It is crucial to always do a seal check each time you wear it. N95 is effective for 8 hours and thereafter you need to dispose of it.
Why was it called N95. N is for not resistant to oil and 95 means on test it can filter out 95% of most penetrating particles.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised people to read the instruction manuals properly as they found out that nearly 75% of facemasks wearers didn’t know how to wear the more sophisticated masks.
Online retailers selling disposable facemasks in UK
Loorolls.com have plenty of stock of high quality non-woven face mask with ear loop. You can by them as multipacks of 50 available to order right now at £50, i.e. £1 per facemask. These masks have a CE certification and a bacteria filtration efficiency of 95% and particle filtration efficiency of 86-95%.
Toiletrolls.com had Drager Xplore 1720 V FFP2 face mask available but have run out of stock. However, they also have disposable face masks but limited stock. Therefore, if you want some now hurry while stock lasts. They only sell multipacks at £50 per pack of 50 which is a shed load unless you work in the health sector. They have three layers of fabric and a filtration efficiency of 95%.
Can a face mask protect me from catching covid-19?
The science behind wearing a mask is to ensure that you help keep others healthy rather than it protecting you. For example, if someone has covid-19 and is asymptomatic and is wearing a mask, it could prevent them from accidentally infecting others when he/she gets into contact with the public as you wouldn’t self isolate until you begin showing symptoms which appear after day 5.
The UK government is trying to manage the use of facemasks just for frontline staff and rightly so. We are still seeing a shortage of masks and you would have to wait for weeks to get one if you order some online.
The million dollar question would be,
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GOVERNMENT MAKE THIS MANDATORY FOR WHEN YOU GO OUT IN THE PUBLIC?