Disposable Face Masks and their use
Previously disposable face masks were only seen in cases where an individual had a cold or flu like symptoms and was asked to wear it to safe guard others. Or in surgeries which again was to prevent accidentally contaminating someone else. However, with the recent outbreak of the Covid 19 Coronavirus thousands of people have begun buying up all of the face masks they can get and wearing them anytime that they go into the public. This has caused there to be a shortage of disposable face masks.
It turns out disposable face masks are quite hard to make.
There are several types of disposable face masks. These include the common ones purchased by most of the public as well as a more effective type known as a N95 which filters out 95% of the particles in the air. These masks generally appear in the healthcare profession and are used by first responders. The third type of disposable face mask is an N99, which filters out 99% of the air. The main drawback with these is that they are difficult to wear for long periods and cost substantially more than the others.
It turns out that while the outer portions of the disposable face masks use fairly common materials the inner layer is a much different story. This is made through a special process and produces a fabric known as melt blown. These fibers are less than 1 micron in diameter making for a very dense material. The price of this material in china has gone from about $6000 a ton to over $60,000 a ton in just a few months. The machines required to make this material are also very expensive and take a considerable amount of time to assemble due to their complexity.
See related article I used for the above info HERE.
These factors along with the world wide nature of this incident combine to create a shortage of these masks.
Urging people not to purchase the masks.
Now health officials are urging people who are not infected or working in the health care profession to avoid purchasing the masks. Many of these requests argue that the masks will not stop you from getting infected and that the safest way to avoid the coronavirus is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Read also – Seriously Stop Buying Face masks.
Now this seems to confuse me as they indicate that the masks don’t protect you, while at the same time they are saying to reserve the masks for the health care professionals who are dealing with the already sick patients. So do the disposable face masks protect you or not?
My thoughts on this.
During my time in the military, nearly every class I attended in regards to chemical and biological warfare indicated that you should minimize exposed skin. Most of the classes and recent comments from the health officials indicate that most viruses, even the airborne ones are carried in droplets of water. By avoiding direct contact with these droplets, you can reduce your chance of exposure. Again they tell us the disposable face masks are not effective, while at the same time they want them reserved for people who are dealing with infected individuals. However, unless you have some stocked up their costs are getting insane.
Due to this, I have decided to cover up nearly every portion of my skin when I am in public. First, I encourage staying home and not going out in public right now, but obviously that’s not always an option. Therefore, when I head out I wear some kind of material to cover every portion of exposed skin. I understand that this will not completely prevent the virus from reaching you but the hope is it will minimize the chance of contact exposure by eliminating contact with those floating water droplets and contact with infected surfaces. It also addresses another portion in which they indicate you should not touch your face.
When I head out, I wear long socks, and pants with boots that go up into my pants legs. I wear a touched in t-shirt and then an un-tucked long sleeve shirt. I then wear gloves and a face shield commonly designed to keep out dust particles and a hat. Only my eyes are exposed I wear glasses so it is difficult to cover them unless I switch out to a face mask which as long as I maintain my distance is not necessary.
This combination allows me to be covered nearly head to toe and would result in any non-liquids that I encounter having the chance to fall off directly downwards. By layering in this manner, there are no upward seams that the materials could become trapped in. Now it may seem as if this would look extreme. As long as you aren’t wearing a full face shield it seems to draw less attention than you would think.
Options to meet this suggestion
My preferred items in this case are from Alpha Defense. They sell microfiber sleeves and face shields, which are quite attractive. These are made from polyester and have fibers that are densely woven as well. Right now, they are having several sales and you can pick them up for a nice price. I understand that they are not the same as a disposable face mask, but think they still offer some protection. There is the added advantage that you can wash them between uses as well.
This is where I feel that they provide an added level of protection. Because they suggest that you wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, this outfit will help that. When you are going to get ready to go out, first wash your hands then put on your boots, pants, shirts and then your face mask. Once it is in place while still in your residence and clean environment you can put on your gloves. Then you head out.
While out and about if you instinctively reach up to touch your face your gloved hand instead encounters the cloth protecting your skin. This means that your face isn’t touched in the process. When you get back home, you take off the gloves, wash your hands, remove the face shield and remaining clothes, wash your hands, and take a shower. Then wash your outer clothes thus you have minimized any possible contaminates in an affordable way.
Will the public look at me funny.
In this case, many of the public you encounter will be wearing disposable face masks as well. So unless you are entering a bank while wearing your sidearm in open carry fashion you shouldn’t draw a second glance. There are some other options if you cannot get a disposable face mask and you still insist on an actual mask.
Some of these include painter style masks from hardware stores and I suppose even a scuba mask if you wanted to carry around an air tank. Though at this point people would think, you were a bit strange.
Some options I found online that remind me of the fallout games or the stuff from the military are the Firemask at Going Gear, this military style gas mask on optics planet and this Honeywell R95 respirator at Hardware World. Some argue that the R95 is better than a N95 because it can also be used in oily environments.
Either way it is ultimately up to you on whether you decide to subscribe to the arguments that disposable face masks don’t protect you. It is also up to you what precautionary measures you want to take when facing the coronavirus or other viral contagions. As for me, I will continue to cover up even though I don’t spend the high prices for the disposable face masks at this time.
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