At the beginning of the pandemic, health officials said not to buy surgical ones or other forms of PPE. They needed to go to hospitals, which were running low on these supplies.
Fast forward to 2021, PPE production has escalated, and people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine every day. While restaurants, movie theaters, and grocery stores start loosening their restrictions, it is still crucial that people wear their face masks to lower the virus' transmission rate.
Now that there are a variety of options available, you may be wondering which one will do the best job of protecting you from the virus—3PLY, KN95, or N95 masks.
During the past year, scientists have conducted studies to see which type of mask is most effective. Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which option is best for you and your family.
How Face Masks Protect You Against COVID-19
The reason why scientists recommend people wear masks is that COVID-19 is an airborne virus. According to this study, it travels by "contact, droplets, and airborne spread." The six-foot distance rule diminishes the risk of getting sick through contact.
Otherwise, the droplets and airborne spread happen when people talk, cough, sneeze, exhale, or make any other action that causes you to emit respiratory droplets. These can come out of your nose and mouth, which is your face mask must cover both.
Scientists have found that the mask keeps your respiratory droplets from spreading throughout the air and onto another person. It also protects you from inhaling others' particles, which is why it's extra important that your mask fits your face. If it is too big, the sides will puff out, creating a pocket for the particles to enter.
When you remove your mask, grab it by the ear loops to avoid touching any of the particles the mask trapped. If you have a disposable one, throw it away. Otherwise, throw your reusable face masks in the wash.
About the KN95 Mask
This mask has a 95% effectiveness rate when filtering particles as small as 0.3 micrometers, which is why "95" is in its name.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask with more than one layer, as it does a better job of keeping your respiratory droplets from spreading. Because the KN95 usually has at least four layers and fits tightly around your face, you do not need to wear another mask on top of this one.
These masks are the most expensive ones on the market; they go for around $2-3 apiece. However, this is because they offer better protection than cloth face masks.
One of its benefits, though, is that you can get two or three uses out of it before throwing it away. In between that time, you should follow the paper bag method or these other cleaning methods to ensure they are as sanitary as possible.
Difference Between the KN95 and N95 Mask
Because their names are so similar, you might be wondering how a KN95 mask differs from an N95 mask. There's actually not much that sets these options apart. They filter particles at the same rate of effectiveness, and they're often made of the same material.
What makes them different is the countries that have approved them. While China commonly uses the KN95 masks, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States has only approved the N95.
You can purchase KN95s in the U.S., but you should buy them from a company that has received approval from the FDA. It ensures you do not purchase counterfeit ones, which has been a problem for people purchasing N95 masks. Use this CDC webpage to determine whether the brand is NIOSH-certified.
About the 3PLY Mask
People commonly refer to the 3PLY mask as a surgical mask. Its name comes from the fact that it has three layers of polypropylene.
It's a surgical mask's job to keep large particles and fluids from getting on hospital workers, but they don't do as good a job as trapping small particles.
To increase its effectiveness, the CDC recommends that you double mask by putting a cloth one on top of the 3PLY. You can also tie a knot in the ear loops or twist them around your ear to better fit your face, as well as find ones with an adjustable metal noseband.
The good news is that the 3PLY is more effective than one-layer fabric masks, and they are a cheaper alternative to the KN95. You can buy 3PLY in bulk at a value of 20 cents each.
Although, you have to throw them away after one use. Therefore, depending on how often you go out in public, you might have to replace the 3PLY frequently.
Purchase New Masks From a Reputable Source
Any mask is better than no mask.
KN95s and N95s offer better protection than the 3PLY mask. If you have a condition or are at an age that puts you at risk for having a severe case of COVID-19, you may want to invest in this option instead.
However, 3PLY are suitable face masks. They will prevent you from transmitting COVID-19 to another person and help protect you from getting the virus. Double masking with a cloth mask is an inexpensive way to make the 3PLY option more effective.
Avoid purchasing defective masks by choosing a reputable face mask company. Brookwood Med offers FDA-approved reusable and disposable masks made of high-quality material. Order yours today to better protect yourself against COVID-19.