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How to Choose Face Masks and Respirators

Which mask is best for you? 

Two things have not changed, and they will remain the most critical details to keep you safe: it is important that you wear a face mask and it must fit you well. When a person is wearing a mask, the particles that come out of the mouth can be captured, which helps prevent future infection.

For further information about respirators and surgical face masks, please read through the end of this article.

Two Categories of Facemasks

For a face mask to be effective, it needs a high level of filtration and should be tight-fitting. The more air that leaks out while wearing the accessory, the less protection you get.

The different types of face masks can be broken down into two categories: loose-fitting and tight-fitting.

Face masks from both categories can be worn outdoors but need to fit properly and be made of any appropriate material. Masks that do not qualify include those with inhalation valves or plastic shields, as well as neck gaiters.

Mask Category 1: Looser Fitting Face Masks

Examples of looser fitting face masks are reusable, non-medical cloth ones and surgical style medical face coverings. Cloth mask fabrics allow more air through them to keep you cool while they muffle your voice less than their tighter fitting counterparts.

This is a great benefit as it helps to protect those around you by containing larger respiratory droplets and slowing airflow, allowing for decreased distance that smaller particles have to travel.

Mask Category 2: Tight-Fitting Respirators

Face masks are made to address both your filtration needs and fit, but they also work as source control (capturing viral particles before you exhale them), with their original design intention being protection from fully contaminated environments when worn properly.

The interesting thing about these tight-fitting respirators is that they have just as many advantages and disadvantages for long-term use; in some cases, they can only be worn for up to a couple of hours. 

Wearing a tight-fitting respirator is important to protect yourself from harmful particles. Make sure you get one that fits well and doesn't have any gaps for unfiltered air flow, which will lead to advantages for safety measures. 

Can Masks Prevent the Transmission of COVID-19?

Experts recommend that individuals use masks when around someone who is infected, as it can be passed through coughs or sneezes.

Face masks are primarily intended to reduce your emissions of virus-laden droplets, which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infected wearers who feel unwell and may not realise they are infectious. Wearing face masks is also a great way to reduce your risk of getting COVID or infecting others.

Can You Wear Masks with Exhalation Valves During COVID-19?

The use of masks with exhalation valves is only applicable in the healthcare settings, where healthcare personnel are required to wear one. Given the kind of ventilation in the hospital setting, exhalation valves help the wearer to breathe comfortably.

But these types of masks are not recommended to wear in public where COVID-19 transmission is high. This is because the droplets coming from the wearer will be released, reducing the efficacy of controlling the virus transmission. In summary, the wearer of a mask with an exhalation valve is protected from COVID but not those around him.

How Do Medical Face Masks and Respirators Differ?

Medical masks (also known as surgical masks) have the following features:

  • Made up of three synthetic non-woven layers.
  • Designed to have filtration in the middle layer.
  • Different thicknesses
  • Have varying fluid resistance and filtration levels.

Respirators, otherwise known as filtering respirators (FFP), are available at varying performance levels, like:

  • FFP2
  • FFP3
  • N95
  • N99
  • N100

The respirator mask is designed to give optimum protection to health workers who provide care for COVID-19 patients in settings and areas where procedures that generate aerosols are undertaken.

Respirator masks should be worn by healthcare personnel, mostly in hospital settings, where care is attended to COVID-19 suspects. Disposable masks, on the other hand, can be worn by the general public as long as these masks comply with the existing medical standards. 

For people with underlying comorbidities, with COVID-19 and/or dying, medical masks are the recommended protection to prevent further infection and protect those around them from infection. Disposable medical masks are also called surgical masks. 

As for home-made, non-medical masks and reusable, they should be worn multi-layered and ensure that they are well fitting.

Dexcon | Leading Medical PPE Supplier in Australia

The greatest takeaway about masks is that every individual must have the responsibility to protect himself from contagion or help prevent others from getting infected by properly wearing masks.

If you need a reliable supplier of face masks, whether surgical or respirator, we, at Dexcon, can help you. We are a global provider and manufacturer of pandemic-related medical devices, including the best face masks in Australia and other components of PPE.

Contact us for your enquiries.

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