Does a Mask With A Filter Prevent COVID?

Most of us want little more from 2021 than to see the COVID-19 pandemic snuffed out. Even if you haven’t personally contracted COVID, you’ve been impacted by it, and may have even lost loved ones to it. 

We’re all actively looking for better and more effective ways to keep safe and slow the spread, so that hopefully COVID-19 will retire to a history book and no longer be a part of our everyday lives. COVID-19 spreads mostly via respiratory droplets between people. Wearing a face mask has been shown to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the amount of respiratory droplets that enter the air. 

Are some masks better than others? We want to be sure we are not only choosing effective masks, we want to make sure we are choosing the most effective masks

There are many different styles and types of masks available, including masks with removable filters. You may wonder if a mask with a filter prevents COVID. 

Your team at Hope Health Supply has been on the frontlines supplying medical facilities, schools, and individuals with personal protective equipment since the emergence of the pandemic. We know how masks work, which masks are effective, and what makes them so. 

We’ll give you all the information you need to determine if a mask with a filter (or any other mask) can prevent COVID, how masks work, and what options are available.

How Does a Mask Work?

You’ve heard the advice: “Wear a mask to protect others.” 

It’s true that wearing a mask protects those around you more than they actually protect you. However, you should know that wearing a mask does indeed offer personal protection, too. 

Wearing cloth masks prevents respiratory droplets that are expelled when the wearer sneezes, coughs, speaks, or sings from entering the surrounding air. It does not, however, prevent the wearer from inhaling all respiratory droplets that could contain a virus. 

The CDC stresses that wearing a mask does provide some protection to the wearer, by reducing the amount of inhaled respiratory droplets. This makes mask wearing beneficial for everyone. 

Mask wearing is most effective when masks are worn consistently and correctly, and correct mask wearing includes selecting masks that are effective. 

Does that mean only selecting masks with filters? No. Here’s why.

What Kinds of Masks Have Filters?

Filter masks are masks that contain a pocket that holds a special filter. The filter can be something homemade, like a coffee filter, paper towel, or vacuum bag, or something made commercially, like an activated charcoal filter.

Masks with filters do not prevent COVID. In fact, no mask prevents COVID-19. The purpose of a mask is to slow the spread of the virus, but any CDC recommended mask can accomplish this; it doesn’t have to be a mask with a filter. 

Additionally, there is some question as to whether or not a mask with a filter is safe for use. The materials (like silica and/or charcoal particles) contained in many mask filters have not been studied to determine their safety when inhaled for long periods of time.

Since masks with filters are only designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 like other masks, there’s no reason to choose them over other masks that do not contain filters with questionable particles. 

There are numerous other mask options available that don’t contain questionable materials and offer protection to you and others. 

What Other Mask Options are Available?

The CDC has extensive information about mask-wearing, including what types of masks work best, and which types of masks and mask-materials you should avoid. 

It should also be pointed out that the CDC recommends avoiding the use of surgical masks and N95 masks by non-medical workers and individuals, so that supplies of those particular items can be reserved for healthcare workers. 

Here are three great alternatives to medical masks and masks with filter pockets.

  1. Non-medical disposable masks. These masks are the ultimate in protection and comfort in a disposable, non-medical grade mask. Per the CDC’s guidelines, you should look for a non-medical disposable mask that has at least 2-ply material, like the 3-ply option from Hope Health Supply

    You can grab a box of non-medical disposable masks to keep in your car, at your desk, and at home, so you never have to experience another “oops, I forgot my mask” moment again. Non-medical disposable masks fit according to CDC guidelines, with a hidden metal noseband for easy adjustment. 

  2. Cloth Masks. Cloth masks are a great option for everyday wear in a reusable, eco-friendly format. Cloth masks can be worn and washed repeatedly, and some wearers prefer the feel of fabric against their skin to other mask materials.

    The cloth masks available from Hope Health Supply are also the perfect option for users who are active or who work outdoors. These masks are breathable, while still being made from material that is effective in slowing the spread of viruses. 

    Be sure you wash your cloth mask regularly, or every time it becomes damp or soiled. 

  3. KN95. The KN95 mask is effective in filtering 95% of non-oily suspended particles of 0.3 micron levels. The KN95 is a great way for non-medical personnel and individuals to get incredible filtration while still reserving medical-grade masks for healthcare and frontline workers. 

    The KN95 masks available from Hope Health Supply are comfortable, crafted according to the strictest industry standards, and FDA registered, so can trust the integrity of the protection you’re getting.

More than anything, we want to make sure our masks are not only good quality, we want to know they are effective. It’s possible to know your masks are effective. Here’s how.

How Can You Be Sure Your Masks Are Effective?

Mask effectiveness is determined by three main things: type of mask, fit, and fabric choice:

  1. Type of mask. The CDC recommends the use of non-medical disposable masks, cloth masks (provided the fabric choice is effective), gaiters that are at least two ply fabric or folded over, and clear masks or masks that have a clear panel. 

    Masks with ventilation valves, medical masks, and face shields are not recommended. 

  2. Fit. Your mask is only as effective as it fits. For instance, if your mask doesn’t completely cover your nose and mouth it is not effective. You should ensure your mask fits completely over your nose and mouth, lies flat against your cheeks, and fits securely over the bridge of your nose and under your chin. 

  3. Fabric. Loosely woven fabrics may make you more comfortable while wearing a mask, but they aren’t effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Tightly woven, breathable fabrics (like cotton) should be used to ensure effectiveness. 

    Avoid using fabrics that are not breathable, like leather and plastic. 

The Takeaway

No mask can prevent COVID-19, but wearing them can help slow the spread and eliminate the pandemic more quickly. A mask with a filter isn’t necessary for slowing the spread, so you don’t need to purchase one to stay safe. 

We can all do our part to protect ourselves and protect one another. Hope Health Supply can give you access to the personal protective equipment you need to stay safer during the pandemic. 

 

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32497510/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/unsure-about-actually-wearing-a-face-mask-heres-how-and-why-to-do-it/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html