Which face mask should you wear for good protection?
Worldwide, 129 billion face masks have been used every month since the corona crisis. Many of these are disposable masks, which are increasingly ending up in nature and on the street.
In many cases face masks only provide a false sense of security. Scientists from TU Delft have tested many masks and the medical masks came out as the best. These masks are for sale in supermarkets, pharmacies, online and -in the Netherlands- in vending machines at train stations.
The rest of the masks did a lot worse in the test. The fit has a big influence. The test results clearly show that due to a poor fit, many face masks show "leakage" at the nose, cheeks and chin. And sometimes the fabric also lets through water droplets.
The Spanish Ministry of Health recommends the following medical masks:
1. Hygienic masks with a UNE quality mark. These are advised for healthy people.
2. Surgical masks must state the name of the manufacturer, the quality mark CE (certificado europeo), UNE EN14683 (standard quality and type: 1, 2, or 2R (this says something about the quality of the filters). These masks filter the exhaled air and prevents infected (asymptomatic) people from infecting others through sneezing, coughing and talking.
3. EPI mask: These are used by doctors and nurses who treat Covid patients, and recommended for Covid patients with complaints and vulnerable people. These masks mention the name of the manufacturer, CE mark, UNE, R or NR (reusable or not), FFP1, 2 or 3 (filter) P1, 2 or 3 (filter against particles).
Reusable masks, which are NOT recommended, should be washed at 60 degrees after each use to kill any bacteria and virus particles. There are also face masks with a valve on the outside. With repeated use and washing at 60 degrees, it is not clear whether this valve will continue to work properly. If the filter sticks, you exhale through the valve without filtering this air.
When you take off your mask, you should only touch the rubber bands. If you touch the mask, you should wash your hands immediately. If you are not using the mask for a while, keep it in a sterile place, such as in a sealed plastic bag.