Does the type of mask you wear matter?
Yes. Different types of masks offer different levels of protection. Surgical grade N95 respirators provide the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are expensive, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste, and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. So even countries that have required the public to wear face masks have generally suggested that these masks should be reserved for health workers or those at particular risk.
The evidence for the protective value of single-use paper masks or reusable cloth coverings is less clear, but still suggests that face masks may help reduce transmission of Covid-19. According to the Royal Society’s analysis, this included homemade fabric masks.
Are disposable paper surgical masks better or is a cloth mask acceptable?
Evidence for all mask use, outside of surgical masks, is still emerging: there appears to be some benefit, but the exact parameters of which masks are best and the extent to which they protect the wearer or those around them are still being determined. outside. A tighter fit around the face is probably better, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that any blanket, including a bandana, is better than nothing.
A US study looked at which household materials best removed particles 0.3 to 1.0 microns in diameter, the typical size of viruses and bacteria, and concluded that good options include vacuum bags, ” thick quilting cotton or multiple layers of material. The scarves and bandana were less effective, but still captured a fraction of the particles.
How to put them on and take them off safely?
Before putting on a mask, wash your hands well with soap and water. Cover your mouth and nose with your mask and make sure there is no space between your face and the mask. Avoid touching the mask while in use, and if you do, wash your hands. Replace the mask when it is wet. To remove your mask, remove it using the elastic labels, without touching the front, and throw it away immediately in a closed garbage can or, if the mask is reusable, directly in the washing machine.
How often should you wash the masks?
They should be washed after each use. The CDC suggests “consistently.”
Is there an environmental problem?
Many commercially available masks are made from layers of plastic and are designed to be single use only. According to an analysis by scientists at University College London, if every person in the UK used a single-use mask every day for a year, an additional 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste would be created. The use of reusable masks by the general population would significantly reduce plastic waste and the impact on climate change of any policy demands on the wearing of face masks, according to the UCL team, led by Professor Mark Miodownik . They say the best evidence is that reusable masks do most of the jobs of single-use masks without the associated waste stream.
• This article was modified on May 12, 2020 to clarify that N95 masks alone do not guarantee protection against Covid-19 infection.
• This article was modified on June 5, 2020 to incorporate new guidance published by the World Health Organization
• This article was modified on June 17, 2020 and July 6, 2020 to correct the name of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Due to the unprecedented and continuing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation as best as possible. Any significant corrections to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be noted in accordance with Guardian’s editorial policy.