What kind of mask is the best to use? Is there a difference between the various types? Listen in for 3 minutes as Dr. Teddy explains both the differences in the most common masks types and whether masks actually make an impact. If you would prefer to read the information instead, please feel free to scroll below.
We have seen so many kinds of masks. Whether we know which ones to use and how to use them really matters a lot.
Surgical or Cloth Masks
The most common ones used are the surgical masks and cloth masks. What are you doing when you’re using this type of mask? As these generally don’t really fit well on our faces, they leave us breathing in air around the mask. What we are basically doing when we wear surgical and cloth masks is protecting the other person in front of us, not ourselves. So whenever you’re wearing a surgical or a cloth mask, what you’re saying is, “I’ll protect you. Please protect me.” It is estimated that at least 75% of droplets don’t go through surgical masks and about 50% don’t go through cloth masks.
N95 respirator masks are the best ones. They are made to protect ourselves and others. They are designed to fit really well and to not allow any air gaps around their edges. Every air particle we breathe is supposed to pass through the mask. These masks can block about 95% of all airborne particles, including the smallest little particles measured at 0.3 microns which is about the size of most viruses. So when you’re wearing an N95 mask, your statement is, “I’m protecting you and protecting myself.”
Masks with Valves
How about the weird “Star Wars-looking” kind of masks or masks with exhalation values? I don’t think they are really made for the purpose of guarding against viruses. These were made for industrial settings where we are protecting ourselves from dust and other particles in the air. These do not really protect the person next to us as we’re exhaling clearly through the valve. This means that we’re giving whatever we have to the person next to us. So when you’re wearing a mask with values, you are saying, “I’m protecting myself. You protect yourself.”
Masks as a Political Statement?
These days, almost everything related to COVID-19 has been politicized. I believe masks have become the one most politicized topics. At the same time, if we wanted to make any statement through our wearing a mask, the best statement to make would be, “I care about you.” Most people really won’t get too sick from COVID-19. Some say 85% of people with COVID-19 are not having any serious sickness, but we’re trying to protect that one person who is immune compromised or elderly. So basically everything we’re doing is saying, “I care about you.”
Mask Usage and Risk Levels
Here is one last picture from the Houston health department to consider. It basically shows that when everybody’s wearing a mask, the protection provided is most effective. The highest COVID risk appears when no one is wearing a mask.
Ps. KN95 vs N95 Masks?
The N95 designation for a mask basically means that 95% of microbes 0.3 micron and larger are filtered out. The difference between an N95 and a KN95 is where it has been certified. K is the certification level that has been assigned by the manufacturer in China. So KN means they came from China and N alone means they came from somewhere else. For more on the differences between the two masks, here is a post that might be helpful.
Updated: August 25, 2020