Masking Smartly Makes A Difference


By Richard Davis

Are people who are getting infected and re-infected with COVID using masks? Are they using masks correctly? When we hear about numbers of cases or individual cases there does not seem to be any reporting about mask use. This got me to wondering if people who use masks are using them to maximum benefit.

I have read a number of peer-reviewed medical journal articles and I also looked at data from the CDC and the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) to determine the most effective masks and how they should be used.

It is clear from all studies that the N95 masks do the best job of protecting people from viruses. Studies indicate they are from 95-98% effective in keeping out viruses droplets of the size of COVID and its variants. I was using cheaper masks for awhile but have switched over to N95 because I realized I was not adequately protecting myself.

They are not hard to find but they are more expensive than other masks at around $1-$4 a mask. You can purchase all you need at and it will cost you $29.99 for 30 N95 masks. Considering their effectiveness, it is worth paying the extra money.

Here are some interesting numbers from the EPA. A two layer woven mask without a nose bridge has a fitted filtration efficiency (FFE) of 44.7%, with a nose bridge 56.3%. A cotton bandana’s FFE is 49% and a procedure mask with loops tied and corners tucked has an FFE of 60%.

It is important to note that the masks that are given away at the door of many business and used by a lot of people are only supposed to be used one time. It is clear too many people are using these masks for way too long. I cringe when I see people who have a bunch of masks hanging from their car mirrors.

Not only are they using them too long but they are potentially spreading disease just by hanging them up.

When you use any mask you should put it in a plastic bag after use and if it is a one-time only mask you should bag it and throw it away. Some masks can be cleaned but you should check with CDC web sites for proper cleaning of masks. Cloth masks can be washed. Experts recommend that a multi-layer mask be used with a cloth mask because a cloth mask may only provide 26% FFE. That won’t help you very much.

The cost of buying masks can add up but if you are smart and stock up on the N95 and use them properly they can be used much longer than the one-use masks. It is recommended that N95 masks be used for no longer than eight hours.

As far as I am concerned, using a mask that will protect you is critical in this era of COVID. There is no end in sight to this current pandemic and being smart about protection is the best that we can do for ourselves and everyone else we come in contact with.

If you want more information about masks so you can come to your own conclusions, check out web sites at the CDC and the EPA. They have the best information available.

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