What to look for when buying a mask?

As more and more cities, counties, and states are mandating their citizens wear masks while in public, we thought it was time to review what you should look for when purchasing a mask.

First of all, you should not be wearing an N-95 mask according to the CDC. These masks are still in critical supply and should be left to our healthcare professionals. However, there are still so many other choices making it difficult to figure out which one to purchase.  

USA Today has put together a list of 8 thing to look for when purchasing your mask:

  1. Choose the right fabric – Fabric has different sized spacing between individual yarns, meaning some fabrics will have larger or smaller “holes” depending on the construction and this will affect their effectiveness against the coronavirus.
  2. Tightly woven fabrics offer better protection – Dense and tightly woven fabrics will also offer the best chance of protection because these have the smallest “holes.” 
  3. Multiple layers increase effectiveness – Studies found that multiple layers of fabric increase the effectiveness of filtration of virus particles, but there’s a trade-off—it may be harder to breathe.
  4. Bandanas are not a good choice – A study from a group of engineers at Missouri S&T tested bandanas, pillowcases, and furnace filters for face coverings. Out of these items tested, bandanas performed the worst.
  5. Knit materials tend to stretch and don’t make for the best protection – Knits are made to stretch and when that happens the holes get bigger, which means it’s more likely that viruses can get through.
  6. Filters are effective but can pose a safety risk – While many masks for sale have an additional pocket for a filter, it could potentially do more harm than good. Certain types of household filters contain fiberglass which can be dangerous if inhaled.
  7. It should fit snugly to your face – Aside from fabric type, fit is a factor in the quality of a cloth mask. The mask should fit snugly on your face, covering your mouth and nose with no gaps.
  8. It is better to go with a mask than without – Some people may find wearing masks uncomfortable. If a double-layer tightly woven fabric mask is uncomfortable or makes it hard to breath, try a single-layer, lighter weight fabric or stretchier mask. These may offer less protection than a denser mask, but might be more comfortable to wear.

Knowing what to look for in a mask can make it easier to choose the mask that is right for you. 

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