Why you should ditch the surgical mask for a cloth one
By now, most countries have some type of mandatory mask laws in place. The laws vary from place to place, but the majority require a mask while in public. Unfortunately, in the mad scramble where everyone was trying to get a mask before the restrictions cut in, many may have gotten the wrong mask!
Mask sales have gone up... but are they the right masks?
Nobody wants to wear a mask but for many, it is a duty that they take with great pride. As more data comes in, the overwhelming consensus is that wearing a mask reduces transmission of the novel coronavirus. In short, it stops you from spreading it, even if you don't know you have it. The question remains, however, if there is a difference between the types of masks that you can purchase.
There are three types of masks you have probably heard about.
The three main types of masks on the market all have different purposes and best use scenarios. Let's identify them real quick:
Surgical masks are the most familiar ones to most Americans. We see doctors in shows wearing them, surgeons snapping them on before an operation, or your dentist wearing one before you get a cavity filled. They are the thinnest and most common masks around and are made of non-woven plastic that is usually blown into shape.
Cloth masks are what most of the hullabaloo (politically speaking) is about right now. These are masks, usually made from cotton or polyester, that the CDC and WHO are recommending the public wear right now. They are typically multi-layered and can come with your favorite football team on them or in plain colors.
N95 masks are designed for medical use and are incredible because they filter out 95% of all airborne particles. These are the masks currently being used by medical professionals across the world.
Which one is best?
Well, the N95 mask is the best of the three, plain and simple! Unfortunately, the entire world needs these masks right now and they aren't a priority for public usage. For people looking for a mask, their only real options are a cloth mask or covering of some type or a surgical one.
Ditch the surgical mask and get a cloth one.
Surgical masks are easy to buy, cheaper, and come in bulk. They are also super thin and don't have as much bulk as a cloth one. For many, this seems like a no brainer! "Why get a cloth mask when I never have to wash the surgical ones and they are so cheap"? Well, science has something to say about that! When it comes to viral spread, surgical masks can't beat the cloth ones.
Surgical masks are designed for large droplets and sprays of liquid.
When your dentist or doctor puts on a surgical mask, the ultimate goal is to stop large sprays of bodily fluid or liquid. A surgeon probably isn't keen on getting his work near his mouth. The surgical masks were never designed to be a preventive barrier that viruses couldn't pass through.
Cloth masks catch aerosolized water droplets.
The biggest advantage that cloth masks have when it comes to safety is their ability to catch aerosolized water droplets. Viruses that live in the lungs hang out in these water droplets and just wait to be coughed or sneezed out by someone who doesn't know they are sick. If you are wearing a surgical mask, most of these microscopic droplets will get through. If you are wearing a cloth mask, however, the droplets get caught in the later of cloth and stay next to you.
It all comes down to responsibility.
Is it technically legal to wear a surgical mask in public? Yes, it is. Many people do this because they want to skate by and appear to be following the rules but don't truly care for the safety of those around them. If you are truly interested in your neighbor's health, however, wear a cloth mask. It isn't about you, it's about the people around you.
If you haven't made the switch, check these ones out!
Written by Colby Maxwell
Sources: Health News Hub