With the World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities’ valiant efforts across the globe, awareness regarding the Coronavirus or COVID-19 (which is its scientific name) has peaked, and everybody is now cognizant of the virus and the threat it poses. However, there is a considerable lack of knowledge about which masks protect you against COVID-19 and to what extent.
In essence, even a piece of cloth wrapped around your face can offer a reasonable amount of protection. But complete protection against the virus is only achieved by a particular mask called the NIOSH-95 Mask (N95). Nevertheless, there are multiple types of masks going around the market, offering marginal levels of protection. And while there isn’t anything inherently wrong about this, the problem starts when other masks get mistaken for N95 masks. People go into areas with a significant degree of contamination wearing those masks and thinking they are immune to the virus.
Dust Masks and everything you need to know about them
One such mask variant that gets commonly mistaken for an N95 mask is the dust masks. They are quite similar in appearance and may even be passed off as N95 masks by unaware sellers. That being said, dust masks do NOT provide complete protection against the Coronavirus. They were initially designed to stop dust and mud particles from entering your mouth or respiratory systems during activities like sweeping, gardening, mowing, etc. Even if the occasional particle crosses over, it is no cause for alarm as the particles dust masks are intended to stop are non-toxic. Even so, worker unions are protesting against dust masks’ usage as protection when they are working with materials like asbestos, fine sand, paint spray, and welding fumes. There is even discussion among health authorities in the UK about withdrawing dust masks from sale entirely. The level of protection offered falls below the required standard for construction workers. That should give you a good idea regarding the efficacy of dust masks. Dust masks are not meant to protect against hazardous gases or vapors.
The virus is transmitted through water molecules that are ejected into the air when a person carrying the virus coughs, sneezes or touches a surface. The water molecules are heavier than air and fall after a short-lived, momentary suspension in the air. The virus is also incapable of sustaining itself for long after it exits the host.
Therefore, there is no reason to be paranoid, and if used in combination with social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6 feet at all times), dust masks are a viable option. But it is worth keeping in mind that once you exceed the 6-feet threshold, then you are at risk of catching the virus no matter how tightly you’ve got your mask on.
Unlike N95 masks, dust masks are not made to fit, and there will always be room for tiny particles to pass. It is also worth noting here that commercially sold N95 masks may not work as well either, but they certainly offer a much higher level of protection than dust masks. The N95 masks which are made to fit are at the moment being prioritized for all healthcare personnel and those at the frontlines who are at risk of catching the virus the most.
Generally speaking, a commercially sold N95 mask should provide you enough protection to be able to comfortably show your face in public. A dust mask, on the other hand, will only work in tandem with strict social distancing. And if we’re honest with ourselves, social distancing is one of the first rules to be broken in public settings (especially social gatherings).
Where to procure official N95 masks?
If you have any experience shopping for a mask, you will probably be aware of how rare N95 covers are. You will typically come across scores of surgical masks and dust masks, but very few of these. Next time you go outside, try counting the number of people wearing surgical masks and compare that number with the amount of N95 masks you see.
CanGardCare is one of the most reliable respiratory masks and harbors a variety of masks for different uses, including optimal protection against all airborne diseases. CanGardCare also offers a vast selection of protective gear like face shields, gloves, etc. You can synergize with your respiratory mask for even better protection. This is particularly important if your job involves regular customer interaction.
A few important things to know.
The struggle against COVID-19 goes on, and we can play our part by stopping its spread as much as we can until a vaccine is ready. It is essential to not overburden the healthcare system and let patients be treated in an orderly and reserved fashion. The best thing we can do as a person is to stay indoors. However, it is understandable if you have work to do outside your home, which is why it cannot be stressed enough to wear proper protective gear and sanitize your hands regularly. Every one person labeled safe is one less patient that our heroes have to worry about.
Many companies have already taken this epidemic in stride and provide each employee with protective equipment before posting them on the line of duty. Most businesses are also considering automation and digital selling. Microsoft even closed down its centers for good, stating that they will go completely online from this point forward.
Avoiding contact with the virus yourself is one thing, but it is also important to guide others on the proper usage of masks. Start by educating your close friends and family regarding the difference between surgical and dust masks and N95 respirators. Never joke around about the virus or its danger and stand up against people who belittle the situation. Take care of each other and offer a helping hand to those in need. Only together can we get through this pandemic.