Updated: Feb 10
There are plenty of face masks sold in the market these days. Are you buying the right mask? Here are some facts you may need to know about masks composition ratings.
In the beginning of this year, some nations have faced different phenomena such as smog-choking pollution, volcano eruption, and the recent coronavirus outbreak. News has been broadcasted in the different TV stations all over the world. Among the most affected countries are China, where the novel coronavirus has originated, Philippines for the unpredicted Taal volcano eruption, the undying air pollution causing smog and hazy environment in Thailand, and the mountain blaze or bushfire in some part of Australia that have caused millions of animals’ death. These phenomena turned to be the talk of the town in the current times and all these circumstances have one thing in common – they are harmful to the inhabitants. According to health experts, wearing of protective mask is a good way to avoid the contamination of virus and inhaling sulfuric gases from volcano or any other air pollutants.
Face mask production
Amidst the trepidation and the rapid growth of infection on this wide-spreading virus and air pollution comes an upsurge demand on face masks. Pharmacies and suppliers have run out of stock whilst the manufacturers struggle to keep pace with the high demand in their production line. They opted to cancel their holidays and preferably extend hours to be able to cope up with the shortage on supply.
There are different kinds of masks sold in the market, some are made of ordinary cloth which is mostly in cotton fabric while respirator and medical mask filters are composed of mats of non-woven fibrous materials such as wool felt, fiberglass paper, or polypropylene. TheNationalAcademiesPress
Face mask composition
Face masks are available in different configurations, it could be a flat or pleated shield that has ear loops or a molded cup shape held in place by an elastic cord around the head. These masks are also called as air filter, medical, surgical, or protective half-face masks.
Face mask protect against airborne particles present in the form of powders and dust as well as aqueous mists. These disposable masks come in P1, P2, and P3 ratings and are used in agriculture, pharmaceutical and construction sites. RespiratorShop
P1 is generally a mild dust and mist mask. It is recommended for environment with low levels of dust, like places where hand sanding, cutting, and drilling is done. These masks are able to protect the users from liquid and solid aerosols. The OEL* and APF* of P1 masks are 4x which means that they can protect against dust in 4x limit concentration.
P2 mask have a higher protection than P1. This type of mask is ideal for environment or workplaces with moderate level of dust and mist concentration. Both P1 and P2 can protect against liquid and solid aerosols. The OEL* of P2 masks is 12x while the APF* is 10x.
P3 mask offers higher protection than the P2 and P1 masks and is used in surroundings with a higher concentration level of dust. Their OEL* is 50x and APF* is 20x.
In addition, P3 mask is mostly used in pharmaceutical industry. It has the highest filtration effectiveness and has the maximum protection against dust, smoke, and mist. ProtectiveMasksDirect
When choosing the right mask to use for any of these health and environmental hazards, it is recommended to purchase the mask with the best protection effectiveness in accordance to the condition of the environment. It is also necessary to select the one that is convenient to wear and comfortable to use.
*OEL - Occupational Exposure Limit is the allowable concentration of hazardous substance in the environment.
*APF - Assigned protection Factor means the environment level of respiratory protection that a class of respirator is expected to provide.