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What is the best mask for me?
The best mask for you is one that you can wear comfortably and consistently. An excellent, easy to understand guide to masks is available online:
How do I choose the right mask?
The purpose of masking is to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 infection. When choosing a cloth mask it is best ensure the mask:
- Has two or more layers of breathable fabric,
- Fits snugly against both sides of your face with no gaps, and
- Covers both your nose and mouth at the same time.
What is the difference between surgical and KN95 masks?
Surgical masks are effective and provide fluid resistance which cloth masks (unless treated) do not provide. Key points for consideration for choosing to wear a surgical mask:
- Surgical masks are loose fitting and do not require a fit test.
- The fabric of surgical masks does not filter out all small particles.
- The mask must cover both your nose and mouth at the same time.
- The fit of the mask is snug against both sides of your face with no gaps.
- A surgical mask can be reused if stored and handled with care.
The KN95 respirator is a mask that is designed to be tight fitting with the intent of adding extra respiratory protection to filter out harmful particles in the air. Unlike an N95 respirator, KN95 respirators are made in China and are not certified by NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). The filter of the KN95 is thicker which may make breathing more difficult, especially for those with certain medical conditions.
Disposable masks should be discarded if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through.
Reusable cloth masks should be removed when soiled and washed regularly.
Reusing a single use surgical mask:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best approach for reusing a single use surgical mask is to first wash your hands, then remove the mask using the ear loops, followed by folding the outer surface/outside of the mask against itself. Once the mask is folded it can be hung up or placed into a clean breathable container or paper bag. Surface disinfectants should not be used to clean the outside of the mask/respirator as this may put the wearer at risk of breathing in harmful chemicals. Again, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- It is best to avoid touching the outside of the mask.
- If the mask does become soiled, wet, or dirty discard and obtain a new mask.
- Makeup, particularly lip products, do impact the integrity of the inside of the mask. It is advised those products are avoided or used sparingly.
Additional Mask Information
Additional information about mask use can be found below.