How to choose the correct face mask

Amanda Bullock / September 16,2021

The ongoing pandemic has made wearing a face mask indispensable. Face masks such as the p2 mask, N95 mask, and surgical mask are crucial for the safety of front-line workers and the public to reduce the spread of the virus. Choosing the correct face mask is thus very important. It should not only be of good quality but also should be comfortable to the wearer.
Types of face masks
Choosing the correct type of face mask is essential, based on each individual’s requirement and context. Here are the most commonly available face masks and their respective advantages:

  • The p2 mask: This mask type is similar to the N95 mask in terms of safety and build. However, the main advantage is that it is made locally in Australia, according to national guidelines. On the other hand, the N95 mask follows American testing standards. The main advantage of these masks is that they are considered extremely effective against the covid-19 virus. They are especially useful for medical and front-line workers. These masks are also necessary for close relatives of confirmed patients coming into contact with them.
  • Surgical mask: Surgical masks have been the most commonly used over the past few years. They are disposable masks that are very effective in filtering and blocking particle droplets and viruses from entering one’s nose or mouth. Medical and healthcare workers have been recommended to wear surgical masks. However, one of the only disadvantages of surgical masks is that they are not reusable. It is not advisable to keep reusing surgical masks. They need to be disposed of appropriately after a single-use.
  • Cloth mask: Cloth masks are less effective as compared to the above options. They are made of cloth and are hence more comfortable to wear for long periods. Moreover, they are reusable and can easily be washed and disinfected. Cloth masks are recommended for precautionary everyday use to prevent getting infected and can be used by persons not coming in contact with infected patients.

Features to look for when selecting a mask

  • Safety: Safety and effectiveness against the spread of the virus are the top-most priorities when selecting and using a face mask. In this respect, p2 or N95 masks are regarded as the most effective, as opposed to basic cloth masks.
  • Comfort: One is often required to wear a face mask for a long period, especially while commuting or working in a common or public space. Hence, it is vital that the face mask one chooses is comfortable and not too constrictive.
  • Size and quality: Choosing a good quality mask of the correct size and fit will go a long way in ensuring comfort and overall durability.

Aside from protection against viruses, face masks like the p2 mask can be useful in various situations. The increase in pollution in major cities is leading to a growing danger of respiratory diseases. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of wearing these masks when exposed to poor air quality or bushfire smoke, as they filter out fine particles. Wearing face masks in such situations can thus be extremely helpful for one’s health and safety.
Additionally, people working in various industries such as mining, electrical work, construction and welding, research laboratories and so on can benefit immensely from wearing masks as protective gear. Individuals working in industries such as food processing, farming, and gardening can also benefit immensely from the use of face masks.