A “surgical mask” is made from fabric or other material like polypropylene. Medical personnel wear it to prevent the transmission of airborne organisms during surgery. A good quality surgical mask is generally made of at least a three-ply layer.
How to choose your mask?
It’s vital that your mask fits well. It must create a good seal around your face, ensuring no leakage of air through the sides of the mask. A loose fitting mask is useless in increasing your protection levels against bacteria.
Face masks are available in many different styles, offering different levels of protection. The most common and most economical face mask is the standard surgical mask. Beware of cheap, 2 layered, papery masks from retail chemists and the like. A good quality surgical mask should be 3 ply, having an inner hydrophilic layer (worn closest to the skin and absorbing moisture), a middle filter layer and an outer hydrophobic layer (meaning it repels water).
A standard surgical mask does not have to be tested for its efficiency in filtering out particles to meet Australian and International standards, however it must be able to filter bacteria to a level of 95% at 3.0 micron (3 millionths of a metre).
Another popular mask used in infection control is a P2, or standard surgical mask.. An N95 respirator is able to filter out 95% of oil-free microscopic particles, down to 0.3 micron in size. The “N” stands for “Not oil proof”.
Take note, it must be made clear that masks will only REDUCE your risk of contracting the virus, not guaranteed 100% protection. However, a mask, used in conjunction with good hand hygiene and infection control procedures, is the most effective way of reducing the risk of infection.
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