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Hey, did you fail to get your hands on a surgical mask this pandemic when it’s considered to be mandatory? Covering your mouth and nose is really necessary in addition to social distancing and washing hands to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid 19.
Due to really high demand of surgical masks in this pandemic, it is impossible to find any at the local store or pharmacy at some places. Yet somehow, people are managing to make their own DIY face masks with their own fabric that does a pretty good job in not allowing the tiniest particles to pass through. Now the question is “Which fabric is used for surgical masks?”.
Well, the whole article covers this question. After a lengthy session of research, the main points and qualities of the fabric are mentioned below regarding their usage. It is necessary to know the properties of the fabric we are going to use to make a mask so that we can choose the best for ourselves and make our mask good enough to save ourselves.
Surgical masks are often known as face masks that are manufactured using non-woven fabric (20gsm or 25gsm) that is usually generated from plastics such as polypropylene, which is known to be a good component having good filtration capability to block the bacteria from entering your mouth and your nose.
Multiple layers of fabric and filters are combined together to make a good surgical mask. Non-woven fabric is known to be less expensive and hygienic at the same time because of its disposable nature. About three to four layers of the non-woven fabric are combined together to make a surgical mask. These masks are regularly made with two filter layers which prove to be effective for not letting the bacteria (above 1 micron) pass through the mask.
The actual filtration capacity depends upon the fiber and how well the mask is made. Such masks are made in factories on a machine line that gathers the nonwovens from the bobbin of the machine, which then rapidly sews the layers together and then stamps the nose strip and ear strings to the mask.
With all this procedure being completed, the masks are sterilized before sending them out to the market.
What Are Surgical Masks Used for?
We all know that surgical masks serve as a protection; they are designed in such a way that they prevent the germs from the nose and mouth of the person wearing it from contaminating a patient during a medical procedure and vice versa. No doubt that before this pandemic, such masks were utilized by the doctors or medical professionals only. But we all know that we have seen a massive increase in its demand during the pandemic i.e. coronavirus.
Let’s make it clear; surgical masks can only prevent the germs or bacteria from entering your mouth or nose, or prevent germs from your mouth and nose to infect someone else. It can only act as a barrier for bacteria that is above 1 micron, as far as viruses are concerned, they are really small in size; smaller than bacteria. This makes it impossible for the surgical mask to filter them out efficiently.
What Should You Know Before Using Surgical Masks?
- Using a surgical mask would never protect you 100% from getting infected by an infection or a virus. It just reduces the chances of getting infected to about 20%.
- Surgical masks are disposable masks, so it’s not a good option to disinfect and reuse them again.
- Surgical masks are not to be shared with another individual. Neither should you try to wear someone else’ surgical masks because that would make it easy for the bacteria or the germs to infect you.
- There’s no such report that surgical masks prevent the virus or other micro-organisms from passing through the mask.
- It is mandatory for you to change your mask if by chance it gets wet while sneezing or with saliva (as it would eventually lose its preventive properties).
- Try sanitizing your hands with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer after handling masks.
- Lastly, dispose of the used surgical mask safely. (Dump them all up in a plastic bag or anywhere you know it won’t harm the environment).
How to Choose the Right Mask?
There are a lot of masks out in the town that one can purchase, but how do we make sure that all of them serve the same purpose? It is difficult as they all appear to be the same in appearance.
- Surgical masks that are specifically labeled as isolation, dental or medical procedure masks are the ones that you can go make a purchase for. As they tend to prevent the micro-organisms, body fluids, or large dirt particles in the air from crossing.
- The best surgical mask is the mask that loosely covers up your nose and mouth to prevent you from the exposure of the wearer’s saliva or nasal secretions in case of any respiratory problem, rather than the one that is harsh in nature and end up giving you rashes.
- Are disposable in nature, because disinfecting and reusing your mask, again and again, would only make it a good source of infection for you, nothing else.
Types of Masks
Surgical masks are the primary masks that are not equivalent to respirators. Keeping in mind how surgical masks work and how loosely they fit, they act as a barrier for germs, saliva, and moisture from the sneeze.
Whereas, respirators tend to filter out the tiniest particle in the air such as viruses. Unlike surgical masks, respirators create a seal around your nose and mouth from preventing air-borne particles to pass through. Respirators such as N-95 can be used in situations where patients have an infectious disease or are infected with a deadly virus.
Surgical masks are classified into three levels (levels 1, 2 & 3), which indirectly reflect the level of protection the wearer can get from wearing a particular mask.
Level 1 masks are the masks that are manufactured for general safe circumstances that involve no aerosol, fluid, or spray as they have about 80 mm Hg fluid resistance. Such masks often have loose ear loops which are environmental friendly for both the procedural and surgical settings.
Level 2 surgical masks are the masks that are manufactured in such a way that they provide minimal to moderate protection from the germs as they have about 120 mm Hg fluid resistance.
Lastly, level 3 masks are the masks that are manufactured to stand the maximum exposure to fluids, sprays, or aerosols. They have about 160 mm Hg fluid resistance.
CDC Guidelines Regarding Mask Usage
Center for disease control (CDC) has loosened up the rules regarding the usage of masks for medical health officers and other social communities in order to extend the resources at this time when surgical masks are high on demand in the market.
- A few of these measures comprise of removing face masks in settings/ regions for individuals where they aren’t showing any infectious symptom.
- Avoid re-using the surgical masks as they’re disposable in nature and tend to lose their protection property if reused again and again.
- You may use the mask if the expire date has passed by and they aren’t damaged.
- Take care of your masks and try to limit their use for medical procedures only. As for prolonged interaction with an infectious patient, if there are no respirators available.
Surgical mask is to be used in a clinical setting or during a medical procedure by medical health personnel to prevent infecting the wearer and the other individual that is in contact with the wearer. It must be clearer to you now about which fabric is used for surgical masks by reading the above discussion.
There are different types of masks out there in the market; each mask has its own intensity of protection depending upon the thickness of the non-woven fabric. Apart from all this, CDC has relaxed its guidelines during this tough time of pandemic and increase demand of the masks which eventually lead to its shortage.
Hope this article was helpful to you.
Stay safe and stay happy. 🙂