Face masks have become a vital measure in preventing and containing the spread of coronavirus. In many places around the world, wearing a face mask in public places has become mandatory. In England, people are expected to wear a face covering on all public transport and in most public indoor spaces.
There are many different masks to choose from. As a result, it is often difficult to know which type of mask is the most effective in certain situations. Read our face mask guide to find out more.
Why Do We Need to Wear Face Masks?
To Protect Others:
One of the main ways coronavirus is spread is through respiratory droplets. The transmission of infection can occur when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Face masks can help reduce the risk of infection transmission. Essentially, a face mask can block the wearer’s respiratory droplets from infecting another person. They act as a barrier to stop virus-containing particles from leaving an infected person and landing on another individual.
Many People Do Not Have Symptoms:
Some studies have shown that a huge amount of people carrying coronavirus display no COVID-19 symptoms. Wearing a mask can therefore stop asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus.
According to the BBC:
‘Coronavirus is spread by droplets that can spray into the air when those infected talk, cough, and sneeze. These can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or after touching a contaminated object.’
Therefore, if a mask is worn properly, the transmission of COVID-19 will be reduced. Wearing a mask can also offer some protection to the wearer against infected individuals.
What is the difference between Type I, II and IIR Face Masks?
Medical facemasks can be divided into three different categories: Type I, Type II and Type IIR.
The main difference between these masks is their bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE). BFE is a measurement of a respirator material’s resistance to bacterial penetration. Put simply, BFE refers to how effective a piece of material is in providing protection against harmful bacteria.
Whilst Type I face masks have a BFE of 95%, Type II and Type IIR have a BFE of 98%.
All Type I and Type II face masks have been tested for filtration of air from inside the mask to outside of the mask. This means that they are proven to help reduce the spread of bacteria through respiratory droplets. This also means that face masks can reduce the chance of the wearer infecting the surrounding environment.
However, Type I and Type II face masks cannot totally stop the wearer from being infected by airborne diseases.
What Characterises Type I, Type II and Type IIR Face Masks?
|Type I||Type II||Type IIR|
|Features a 3-ply protective construction that effectively reduces the wearer’s chance of spreading coronavirus through respiratory droplets.||Made up of a protective 3ply construction that prevents large particles from entering the nose or mouth.||Type IIR face masks have a 4ply filter.|
|Type I are not effective against bodily fluids or blood.||Type II face masks are not effective if blood or bodily fluids are present.||The fourth layer is a splash-resistant layer to protect against bodily fluids and blood.|
|Bacterial filtration efficiency of more than 95%.||Bacterial filtration efficiency of 98%.||The ‘R’ in IIR stands for splash resistant.|
Type I, II and IIR are all:
- Single use, disposable.
- Have a pleated front with two elasticated ear loops.
Who should Wear a Type I or Type II Face Mask?
Type I and II face masks are usually worn during general activities. They should be worn when there is no risk of exposure to blood and/or bodily fluids.
Type I and II facemasks are suitable when using public transport or when visiting busy, indoor spaces. This could include, but is not limited to, spaces such as grocery stores or shopping centres.
Who Should Wear a Type IIR Face Mask?
Type IIR face masks are generally reserved for health care workers and other medical staff. This is because they are splash resistant and can protect the wearer against bodily fluids and/or blood.
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