What You Need to Focus on While Buying A Mask #MadeToProtect

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
As an anaesthesiologist inside the operation theatre, my professional life has always had my smile hidden behind a mask for decades. I never thought I would see the day when I would walk out the hospital door and be surrounded by people, young and old, wearing masks as well. But then, 2020 has been that kind of year, has it not?

Months after the lockdown ended, I still get queries from the public about what kind of mask to buy and what is most appropriate for loved ones. Since there are plenty of myths around face masks in India, I thought I would filter through (no pun intended) the misconceptions and help you make an informed choice.

The first thing to remember is that whether it is PPE equipment or certified face masks, get your products from sites like sciquip.co.uk which are trustworthy when it comes to scientific and laboratory equipment.

List of things to check while buying a Mask

How many types of masks are there?

The three key types for you to know are:
1. N95 type respirators
2. 3 ply Disposable Mask
3. Reusable Fabric Mask

What is the difference between these masks?

An N95 mask achieves an extremely tight facial fit around the nose and mouth. They are available in limited amounts and are reserved for health care workers and medical first responders, as per Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The next higher level of safety above this would ideally be an air purifying respirator that improves airflow as well as positive pressure within the mask.

For wearing a mask in a public setting, it is recommended to get either a reusable or a disposable mask to help reduce the risk of transmission, which, while not forming as tight a seal, still protects the wearer as well as those around him or her. These masks are more comfortable to the wearer and will ideally be multi-layered, the outer layer being water-resistant while the inner layer is water-absorbent. The middle layer acts as a filter.

While most reusable masks are made from cotton or cloth, some like Welspun Health’s Liquid Resistant Reusable Mask are made from patent pending Nanocore Technology fabric and offer 100 % protection from liquids (which is good if you are around an environment where someone is sneezing or coughing).  

Which mask should I get?

As per the recommendations of the CDC, the general public should not use an N95 mask and should instead opt for one of the other two options. 

Things to look out for:
  • One size does not fit all and different sizes of masks will be required for children and adults. 
  • Look for the Percentage Filtration Number.
  • Look for those which are reusable for higher number of washes and 
  • Tested for quality by independent labs 
It is imperative to not fall for just bright colours and fancy taglines quoting multiple layers of protection. The latter does not necessarily imply better safety. Look for better percentage filtration numbers (particulate as well as bacterial). A higher percentage is better. Most brands offer higher than 95% bacterial filtration efficacy (Welspun Health's 3 ply disposable mask offers >98%, their reusable mask offering a remarkably high 99.9 % bacterial protection). 

What are some key precautions I should take with my mask?

Precautions to Take While Wearing a Mask

  • Your mask should be a good fit and cover both your nose above and your chin below.
  • Do not share your mask. It defeats the purpose entirely.
  • Avoid touching the outer surface of the mask after wearing it. Once you are around a crowd, you need to assume that the outer surface is contaminated.
  • Discard single use masks after one use. This is not the time for taking risks.
  • In discarding your mask, do not touch the outer part of the mask. 
  • It is sad that this needs to be said but please do not fall for conspiracy theories stating that masks are not needed. 
A good mask protects you even before you wear them. During these unique times, do not take chances. Choose a mask that has a high filtration number and meets all safety criteria. Doing this, along with proper hygiene and adequate social distancing, can save not just your life but also your loved ones as well as your community in the long run.

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Let me know what you think.

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  2. Wearing a Mask is not enough. Wearing the right Mask in the right right manner is more important, and your post explains that so well.

    1. Thanks.. Yes. Simply wearing any mask may not be enough especially in these times.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Useful information, Roshan. Doesn't cease to amaze me how casual people are still being about wearing masks!

    1. I hate to say it but it's true.. So many are still extremely lax about wearing masks. I don't know what to say except to keep showcasing the truth

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