Disposable Face Masks vs Reusable Face Masks
With the current Covid-19 pandemic in the spotlight, there has been an upsurge in the usage of disposable face masks, reusable face masks, hand sanitizers, handwashes, gloves, face coverings, and other PPE. Covid-19 is mostly transmitted from person to person by droplets in the air. Everything used as precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic is justified.
Prior to the covid -19 vaccination, the primary ways of limiting the spread of the deadly virus were through precautionary measures, handwashing guidelines, and social distancing. Among these procedures, covering the nose and face is the most important way to avoid infection, which is why people have relied on many types of face masks, such as disposable masks, Type IIR masks, professional respirators including FFP2 and FFP3, cloth or paper masks.
Some masks are more effective than others in slowing the transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19. Wearing a disposable face mask, discarding it at the end of the day, and replacing it the next day may be a hygienic and added precaution, while reusable face masks are more cost-effective because you can re-use them.
The benefits and drawbacks of both types of face masks may be evaluated in order to make an informed decision.
Disposable Face Masks
The disposable face mask, like any other face mask, contributes to the prevention of COVID-19 transmission.
It adequately covers the nose and mouth, attempting to prevent any droplets from entering your body or, in the case of a virus carrier who is not displaying any symptoms, preventing the spread of infection by preventing tiny droplets from contaminating the surroundings
Wearing a disposable mask is advised for individuals going out, doing their jobs, or any activity that may cause two or more people to gather.
Disposable face masks play a critical role in healthcare facilities. Type IIR disposable masks are a typical piece of surgical equipment used by doctors throughout any surgical procedure or while examining patients suffering from a bacterial or viral infection. Since the oral and nasal cavities are more susceptible to infection, these masks act as an effective barrier or protection to the user. Disposable masks are composed of several layers and are intended to be discarded after a single usage by a doctor in an operating room or after 4-6 hours of use.
The Type IIR and FFP masks are the most common disposable masks.
Type IIR masks:
Type IIR face masks are widely used by health care professionals and ordinary people to prevent large particles exhaled by the user from reaching the patient or the surrounding environment. These masks are suited for circumstances in which the healthcare workers are at the danger of exposure to blood or bodily fluids from the patient or work environment.
These masks are loose fitting masks that are manufactured in Europe in line with BS EN14683:2019 standards but do not have to follow the fit testing or seal check requirements.
Some of the perks of Type IIR disposable face masks are as follows:
- They are affordable and easily available at medical supply stores.
- They are fluid resistant and can filter large droplets.
- Healthcare providers, patients, and others may comfortably use it since it prevents individuals from becoming infected from one another.
While the Type IIR mask is a good choice, it does have certain downsides, including:
- Since they are incapable of filtering tiny airborne particles, people with easily transmissible illnesses should consider using masks with greater filtration capabilities such as FFP2 or FFP3 masks.
- They may be loose-fitting and unable to offer a secure and comfortable fit over the face and nose, allowing particle leakage into surrounding environment.
The FFP masks offer guaranteed protection from hazardous particles and aerosols. There are three EN protection classifications for single-use dust protection masks (FFP masks): FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The FFP masks must pass fit tests and seal checks requirements. These masks filter at least 90% of particulates, including large and small droplets.
While evaluating FFP2 and FFP3 masks, we must also study their advantages and disadvantages.
These masks are packed with advantages such as:
- Their ease of availability in shops.
- It has a higher filtering capacity than other masks and can shield you against even the smallest airborne particles.
- There is very little to no leakage as they are designed for tight fitting.
Although these masks are an excellent choice in terms of the protection they provide, they do have certain drawbacks, such as:
- They are more expensive than other types of masks.
- The relatively thicker fabric layers might create breathing difficulties in critically ill patients.
- Because it is so closely fitted to the face, it might leave scars on the skin, causing aesthetic issues.
Reusable Face Masks:
Reusable face masks are composed of a variety of fabrics. They can come in a variety of fabric combinations, layering sequences, size and shapes. These face masks are required to meet the bare minimum of filtration, breathability, inhalation or exhalation resistance. It is advised to wash the mask on a regular basis or when it becomes contaminated before reusing it for sanitary reasons.
The following are some of the benefits and drawbacks of reusable face masks:
- It can be washed and reused several times.
- It has interchangeable filters that may be replaced when they become contaminated.
- Breathing gets difficult with repeated usage.
- After each usage, it gets more prone to becoming contaminated.
- Filters do not cover the entire mask, simply the nose and face.
Face mask disposal
To avoid transmission from waste and discarded material, any form of mask must be used and disposed of properly.
The following instructions can be used to properly dispose of old masks:
- After disposal, practise hand hygiene by thoroughly washing or sanitising your hands.
- Untie the mask from behind the ear, not from the front and avoid touching masks from the centre; instead, pick it up from the edges.
- As the used mask becomes wet or damp, reuse after washing or replace it with a new one.
- Discard disposable masks after each usage and dispose of them promptly after removal.
To avoid contracting an airborne virus, it is critical to understand how to correctly utilise face masks. Face masks should cover your entire face, from the bridge of your nose to the area under your chin. It should be comfortable but tight enough to stay put. Make sure you can talk and breathe easily, and that it does not annoy you, so you do not continually touch or pull it out, which in turn may put an individual at risk of infection or impair its efficacy.
The type of mask to wear should be determined by the situation and exposure conditions. Based on the explanation of disposable and reusable masks above, we can infer that both of these masks are considered as primary contributors for the general public.