On the Myths and Facts about “Masks”

Many friends have asked me to Enlightenment them of the different types of masks (So as to educate non medical and non health workers)
Dr Hussaini

Q-1 What are the common types of masks.?
Ans –
1 Cloth mask
2 Surgical mask

Q-2 What are the Respirators.?
Ans –
N- 95
N- 99
N- 100
are the respirators.

Q-3 What is the difference between mask and respirator.?
Ans – Mask has loose fit, it doesn’t seal nose & mouth snugly.
During respiration air moves along the edges of the mask, while respirator has tight seal & most of the times air passes only through its material after filtration.

Q-4 Are all respirator masks r same.?
Ans- No, respirators r graded according to their filtration efficiency.
According to the used filter type
According to the type of materials used & additional features
They r of different types.

Q-5 What is the efficiency grading.?
Ans – According to the efficiency of filtration these r usually graded as-
95, 99 & 100.
Means these respirator masks r capable of traping 95%, 99% & 99.9% of particles, smaller up to the 0.3 micron size.
This grading can also be done as
P1 (FFP1) – 80%
P2 (FFP2) – 95%
P3 (FFP3) – 99.95%
Filtration efficiency.

Q-6 What is the NR or P meaning written over mask.?
Ans –
N – not oil proof
R – oil resistant
P – oil proof
(Eg. N 95 is not oil proof)

Q-7 Few repirator masks have valve, what is that.?
Ans – That valve is nothing but a simple exhalation port with one way valve mechanism, it reduces effort of expiration, reduce heat inside the mask, dissipate humidity & reduce co2 the amount of from the dead space of mask.

Q-8 When to use surgical masks.?
Ans – Surgical mask or procedure mask is the most common mask used by health workers.
It is not designed to protect wearer from inhaling the air born bacteria & viruses.
It is used to block only large particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter.
It also reduce the exposure of wearer’s saliva & respiratory secretions to others. Surgical mask also remind wearer not to touch their mouth/nose which could otherwise transfer virus/bacteria after having touched a contaminated surface.

Q-9 What is the filtration capacity of surgical mask.?
Ans – It can vary between 10-90% according to the manufacturer.

Q-10 How one can assure about the quality of mask.?
Ans – Mask should be certified by the NIOSH (National institute for occupational safety & health) Or
NPPTL (National personal protective technology laboratory)

Q-11 Does cloth mask work effectively.?
Ans – Cloth is a wooven material thus pore size is bigger than surgical mask which is made up of non wooven polypropylene material thus cloth mask is less effective than surgical mask in terms of filtration efficiency.

Q-12 Does extra layer improve efficacy of cloth mask.?
Ans – No, it’s not advisable. Each extra layer adds only 2% of extra protection on the cost of comfort .

Q-13 Can surgical/cloth mask be used routinely.?
Ans – Yes these can be used routinely.
Few studies done on normal population concluded that the use of simple mask can decrease the incidence of flu up to 75%.
Few east asian countries following this practice of routine use of mask.

Q-14 Can mask be reused?
Ans – Cloth mask can be reused after washing.
– Surgical mask should be discarded after single use or after soiled
– Respirator mask should be discarded when resistance of breathing get increased or get solied.
Viruses/bacterias can grow & flourish inside the reused mask.

Q-15 What r the WHO recommendations for using masks.?
Ans –
– For the normal population, any type of mask is not required, maintaining the social distance & hand hygiene are the sufficient.
– Sick person should wear surgical mask.
– Any person who is taking care of sick person should also wear the surgical mask.
– N 95 mask should be used by the person who is potential to get expose with the respiratory secretions of the infected patient. eg… During the Endotracheal intubation, CPR, Ventilation, Bronchoscopy & Tracheostomy.

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