Not all N95 masks are effective in defending against the coronavirus.
Face masks with exhalation valves, instead of blocking particles that could spread COVID-19, actually allow the wearer’s germs to spread, according to health experts. Their ability to release large respiratory droplets into the air worries some, including San Francisco health official Dr Tomás Aragón, who even signed an order in May warning of the potential dangers of these particular masks.
“Any mask that incorporates a one-way valve (usually a raised plastic cylinder about a quarter the size of the front or side of the mask) designed to facilitate expiration allows droplets to be released from the mask.” , placing others nearby at risk, ”reads the order.
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Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that standard N95 respirators reduce wearer exposure by filtering out about 95% of air particles, while those with exhalation valves allow “air expired unfiltered to escape into the sterile field ”.
Dr. Matthew L. Springer, a cardiologist at the University of California at San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that masks with these values are “practically unnecessary.”
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“Since most of the value of these masks is not to protect the wearer but to protect others from a potentially contagious asymptomatic wearer, these one-way valves make masks virtually useless in protecting others,” a- he declared. “So all of these potentially contagious people are coughing up large unimpeded respiratory droplets, probably even in a concentrated stream going through the valves.
If you have a mask with an exhalation valve, health experts say you can cover it with a piece of duct tape.