“Prevention is better than cure”.
Taking precautions even before something attack you is important. There are some viruses which spread from person to person. These kinds of viruses are very dangerous which might wipe out an entire nation. One such example is the most recent news, the ongoing corona virus pandemic. This has affected the whole world. It is a severe acute respiratory syndrome, which has the severity of killing a person. This is giving a major threat to the global health. Due to this reason, as a preventive measure, china asked everyone to start wearing masks and avoid moving around in crowds.
Corona virus was observed in the month of December. However, people neglected to take preventive measures in advance thinking that it might not possibly cause a global pandemic. But, it did. One reason why identifying the threats of this virus was difficult is because of the fact that this virus shows up its symptoms only after 15 days of its attack on a person. In order to prevent the virus from attacking, masks are recommended. The most readily available mask was the surgical masks. This is basic masks that doctors wear during operations as it is sterilized. The same serves as a reason for the general public to use it and also because it is affordable and easily available.
Now there are many advanced masks that have come into the market. It is non-woven fabric material which provides better protection against harmful substances in the air.
Idea of the use of a mask
The main concept of surgical mask is to prevent germs from spreading to the patient the doctors operate on during a surgery, creating a sterilized isolated environment during operation. However, due to high availability of surgical masks, it is used with an idea that it might filter out viruses. However, that isn’t true because the viruses are smaller than the germs.
We further discuss about the different types of masks available and the application of use for each.
- Minimal protection- these N95 medical face masks are for minimal procedures. It doesn’t involve the implication of any aerosol or alcohol spray.
- Level 1- these face masks have a fluid resistance of about 80 mmHg. These can be used for both surgical as well as procedural purposes. It doesn’t resist the fluid or spray away completely.
- Level 2- 120mmHg is this mask’s fluid resistance which is higher than the level 1 masks. This provides moderate protection against fluids.
- Level 3- it provides 160 mm Hg of fluid resistance. It resists heavy fluids from entering the shield of the mask. It has the highest fluid resistance and is the most efficient one.
- There is another term called as surgical respirators. These filter out the viruses and bacteria in the air providing complete protection to the face all around the mouth. It is not the same as the surgical masks. These respirators come in many grades out of which N100 is the best.
For further clarity of how to deal with prevention of diseases, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has come up with some guidelines which will help us better understand on how to prevent corona virus and other such viruses.
- Whenever you want to sneeze or cough, always cover your mouth with a tissue.
- Do not remove your mask off in public unless you are sure of a safe environment around you.
- Do not gather in groups as it increases the risk of spread of the virus.
- Do not reuse the mask. This increases the risk of getting a virus.
- Use the mask according to the situation according to their functions.
Nowadays, masks are made of a plastic textured material which is semi permeable to air and filters the bacteria perfectly. Polypropylene is the common element used to prepare masks. Preparation of 20gsm masks involves a process called spun bond process which involves the use of melted plastic. However, one of the powerful advantage of respirators over masks is that they from a tight seal to our mouth which is complete isolation. Non-Wovens are cheap and are ideal mask material. Surgical masks are multi-layered in which a textile is covered with the above mentioned non-woven textile.
Respirators also contain many layers. The preparation is same however, this has a pre-filtration layer which is densely covered by outer non-woven material which acts as a barrier between the outer environment and the mouth. Last layer is electret layer which help determine the efficiency of its filtration.
So once the masks are manufactured, what are the factors they consider to test the manufactured masks.
- Flammability- this is one of the most essential tests. We never know when there might be fire inflammation around us. So flame test is made and the duration it takes to burn is measured.
- Filtration efficiency- another most important and essential test is Bacterial Filtration Efficiency. This is done by spraying some fluids on the mask and tested if it resists it. Similarly, particle FE is also done by throwing microspheres onto the mask.
- Breathing resistance- This is also a very important test to be made. The mask shouldn’t cause any breathing suffocations.
There are certain organizations like FDA and NIOSH, which checks for quality control of surgical masks. They provide an opportunity for generic manufacturers to manufacture masks. However, the masks manufactured need to go to the FDA and NIOSH for verification of all the masks and certification will be provided. The manufacturing has to be done according to the government policies and standards. There is also a lot of competition over the large well established companies. Exports can also be a challenge. However, there can be many opportunities for generic manufacturers to have an employment.
The main idea of this article is to sketch out the main details of the masks which is most important so that you choose better face mask to prevent corona virus from attacking.