With the increasing demand of surgical (medical) face masks, in the context of the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it has also come to light that quality control over mask production has been compromised and some manufacturers and companies have only focused on quantity.
A good quality face mask is either unavailable or priced over the odds.
A high quality safe surgical face mask has to go through quality checks for bacterial filtration efficiency, breathability, water resistancy and absorbency.
Only after passing these standard quality checks, it is made available for sale, as certified masks.
Currently, because of the high level of mask production, the authorities are not routinely checking the quality of these surgical/medical face masks.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that good quality, and poor quality fake face masks are being sold side by side to the public for everyday use.
Here is the correct ways to know whether a surgical mask is safe or not with testing yourself:
FittingA safe face mask should fit the face properly and cover the nose and the mouth.
It comes with an adjustable nose bridge that ensures a secure fit and ear loops that hold the mask steady in place.
Visual proofSurgical face masks are generally 3 ply; that is, made up of three layers.
Cut open the mask to see all the three layers for yourself.
The Outer layer is coloured and is water repellent.
The Middle layer is the microfiltration layer and the inner layer is white and is made up of breathable and absorbent fabric.
This test is done with the mask on.
A good face mask does not extinguish the flame easily regardless of how hard you blow.
So this test shows how effective the mask is at diffusing breath and ensuring a proper airflow filter.
Flame TestA flame test is used to detect the presence of plastic, in this case, polypropylene.
Since the middle microfiltration layer is made up of polypropylene, if a flame is brought close to the mask, it would melt it and the mask will not catch fire.
How to Manipulate the Medical Face Mask?
A mask can be positive for all these tests but still lack effectiveness if not stored or worn correctly.
Before putting the mask on and avoiding contaminating the mask with germs, both hands should be clean.
A mask should fit the nose and lay flat over the face and form a seal around the face to avoid leakage.
Wearing a mask in everyday life is the new normal and has now become a collective social responsibility.
We should all be wearing masks in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the deadly pandemic.
Nonetheless, a mask should be safe and of good quality in order to provide maximum protection to us all.
However. everyone should take precautions when buying masks, check the quality and make sure surgical or medical masks we buy have been certified by the highest authorities and are of the highest quality standards available.