Why N-95 masks are better than cloth masks


Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, masks have become an important purchase and an essential safety tool in the fight against Covid-19. Surgical masks, cloth masks or N-95, you name them and the market has them. But not all masks are equal. The emergence of Omicron has led health experts to suggest wearing N-95 masks to reduce transmission of the new variant.

Why N-95?

The N-95 mask can filter viruses much better than the surgical mask and the difference can be up to 30-40%. According to Dr. Vivek Anand Padegal, Director, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru, “The N-95 mask can filter viruses better and gives a better fit; better fit, less leakage, therefore less spread. A surgical mask tends to to not filter out all the viruses and have leaks on the sides.”

Made from a synthetic fiber – polymer fibers woven into a fabric – N-95 acts as a filtration fabric that filters out hazardous materials. Specially produced, the N-95 Mask is equally effective against all variants, not just Omicron. “Since Omicron is more contagious, public health experts recommend using N-95 to prevent its rapid spread. If two or more people use N-95, the transmission rate drops to less than 5% through certain patterns between individuals over extended periods of time,” says Dr. Padegal. KN-95 and K95 FFP2 are all similar variants of the same thing, depending on country or origin like Korea, China or European Union. They all seek to target between 94 and 95% filtration efficiency and are fairly standardized.

it should stick well

There are several types of N-95 masks, but the one to use is the one that seals the nose and mouth. According to Dr. Tarun Jhamb, Internal Medicine Consultant, Manipal Hospital, Gurgaon, “A good seal is very important in this regard and in the way it is used; it should be attached properly and there should be no leaks around it. “

No mask will work if it doesn’t fit well, doesn’t provide a seal, and if you can breathe easily around it, it won’t protect you. So, comfort is important, but fit is most essential. Dr Padegal adds: “If you’re wearing N-95 and you don’t wear it properly, it won’t protect you. You might be better off lining the mask with cloth masks.” The metal strap, however, should always come on top and provide a good seal around the nose.

It cannot be washed

Some studies have used steam and ultraviolet light, but N-95 masks are generally designed for 24-hour use. They can be used up to five times and should be stored in a brown paper bag or bag. paper, suggests Dr. Padegal.

This allows the mask not to be contagious and the virus can be contained in the bag and not spread. “So the way it’s done is to put the mask in a brown paper bag and not use it for five more days. At that point, the virus particles are no longer infectious,” explains the Dr. Padegal. If soiled, contaminated or broken, the mask should be discarded.

Buy an N-95

Just because the marking says N-95, it does not mean that the mask is N-95. It must be approved by an accreditation body such as ISI certification. “You are getting N-95 masks that are not certified. They include the same material, but are not as safe as those that are (COMMA) certified have gone through the certification process and undergo continuous quality checks,” points out Dr. Padegal. However, N-95 masks usually have headbands and not ear loops, so if your N-95 has ear loops, it’s probably not a real N-95 mask. If you use a mask with the ear loop, it is advisable to use the one with the extension of the plastic band, which tightens and seals the mask.

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