Masks are now a part of our lives. Since the new coronavirus pandemic hit us over a year ago, laws require us to wear facial masks in many public places. Masking is still one of the easiest ways to protect ourselves and others from getting infected.
While you can now buy many different masks online and make them suit your outfit, it is essential to understand the degree of protection each face mask delivers. After all, masks are not all the same. Some may offer a higher level of protection than others.
Different Types Of COVID-19 Masks
#1: N95 Masks:
N95 masks are probably one of the most popular masks around the world. According to several studies, they are best for filtering both large and small harmful particles.
One of the best things about this type of mask is that they are available in different sizes to ensure they perfectly fit different face types. N95 mask has a higher breathing resistance when compared with fabric or surgical masks and uses headbands to achieve a greater seal around the face. N95 mask provides a very strong fluid/splash resistance/barrier.
#2: Surgical Masks:
Also known as 3-ply or medical masks, they are made with three layers of protection. This type of mask is meant to be only used once.
Surgical masks are much better than cloth masks when it comes to protection. This type of mask is designed to be used by healthcare professionals and the general public. According to FDA, they are able to provide filtration at least 95% or greater. An added bonus is the strong fluid/splash resistance properties of this mask.
These masks come with bendable wires to ensure that it stays in place. In addition, they are secured with ear loops or behind your head.
While these masks are incredibly popular for everyday use, they don't deliver an optimal fit like the N95 masks.
#3: KN95 Masks:
KN95 masks are among the best options for the general public and healthcare professionals since they deliver >95% protection. What makes them very popular is that they provide protection similar to the N95 but are much more comfortable to wear for extended periods due to the earloop design. Most of the KN95 masks are manufactured in China and imported to the USA through FDA authorization. Protectly is one of the first companies to offer a 100% USA Made KN95 mask with five layers of protection.
#4: Cloth Masks:
The cloth mask is made of fabric or other materials. While many people prefer these masks since they are washable and reusable, it's important to keep in mind that the level of protection may be between 26% and 50% only. The actual level of protection depends on the materials used and the number of layers.
#5: FFP1 and FFP2 Masks:
FFP1 and FFP2 are European standards for particulate respirators. This includes Germany and France, for example.
FFP1 mask only offers a filtration efficiency of 80%, and the FFP2 mask provides 94% protection. FFP1 and FFP2 masks are not common in the United States.
#6: Homemade Cloth Masks:
If you look around, you will be able to see many people wearing homemade cloth masks. After all, making them is cheap. However, keep in mind that their effectiveness depends greatly on the quality of the fabric used and its' fluid resistance properties. The other significant factor is the number of layers used when constructing the mask and the seal around the face.
If you want to use homemade cloth masks, you should consider using them but adding a surgical mask on top of it.
#7: Bandanas, Scarves, Ski Masks, and Gaiters:
While the main goal is to protect yourself from getting infected, these types of items should be avoided. After all, according to the CDC, they don't offer enough protection against COVID-19.