Facemasks are one of the best way to keep yourself protected during the pandemic. A good quality facemask can prevent and cut down chances of infection by upto 70% and prevent the spread of other related illness- causing germs.
Disposable masks are exactly that- destined for the bin and not for long term use.However, to save money, reduce waste or avoid hassle, many people are reusing surgical masks. That can pose a risk, and health experts are warning people against wearing disposable masks that are worn down from repeated use.
While surgical masks are extremely useful, reusable cloth masks are being used by a lot of people. Economically and environmentally they also make for a better alternative.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment. Shortages of surgical masks and filtering face piece respirators has led to the extended use or reuse of single use respirators and surgical masks by frontline healthcare workers, however the evidence base underpinning these practices is unclear.
How long can reusable facemasks protect you ?
The three layered surgical masks, which healthcare workers use were found to be significantly effective at first use with them pushing out nearly 3/4 of particles that can cause the infection to spread. However, when they are reused, the masks starts to become less effective and can only flush out 1/4 of the minute droplets because by that time, they start to lose shape due to wear.
The observation of a scientific study told that not only does the mask’s fabric alter theway air enters the mouth and nasal cavities, but the type and condition of facemasks also affect infection risk. while new, fresh masks offer the most security and efficiency, already used masks do much less, only filtering out less than 60% of viruses and irritants.
How much protection by facemasks fabric used?
Another factor to consider while choosing a resusable, or surgical mask is to check for the type of fabric it uses. When exposed to environmental conditions and prolonged use, fabrics tend to undergo a lot of wear and tear. The cheaper quality a mask fabric would be over uses. It is also something that should be considered while using fancier, trendy cloth masks. While they certainly may look fashionable, any excessive thread work, or low_quality fabric could compromise its comfort, according to medical experts.
Always remember, a good quality mask should be the one which serves the purpose of a face covering – is simply secured, contains no hole or porous points for germs to enter and fully covers your mouth and nose.
While the use of disposable masks should never be extended, even reusable masks have an expiry date. The best time to replace it, or swap it for a new one depends on a lot of factors – the number of washes, care, uses and most importantly, the kind of COVID risk you can take. The one who travel frequently, interact with people on a regular basis, or are in the medical community need frequent changes.
When should be changing your reusable masks?
Having a couple of masks with you is a good way to safeguard your health. The following indicators can help you decide when it would be the best and safest to dispose off the reusable mask and put on a new one –
• If you have to keep touching and readjusting your mask to fully cover your mask and nose. A snugly fitted mask should leave no gaps or require a little adjustment.
• Check on the ties and elastic loops on your mask. If the band loosens or falls off repeatedly, it can be yet another sign of the mask not fitting you well any longer. It could also be a sign that the fabric has started to degrade.
• If the fabric seems porous, or light and thin after repeated washes.
• If you observe any kind of holes or rips on your mask. This is one of the most alarming mistakes that could be bad for you.Swap out your mask immediately, no matter how tiny or big the hole is.
All in all, if you want to be safe and doubt if the mask makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, swap it out for a new one.