Everything you need to know about masks

There are different types of masks and each one has a specific function. Not all masks are useful for all types of exposures. In addition, it is essential to put them on correctly.

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Masks are personal protective equipment. Its function is to protect the user from exposure to pollutants through the respiratory tract. They are entirely made of a filtering material and consist of a nasal clip or adapter and rubber bands or fastening tapes.

However, some of them have exhalation valves . The valve makes breathing easier and prevents condensation. They are indicated for long periods of use.

Types of masks

Masks can be classified into two groups:

Surgical mask

It is a mask designed to protect other people . This is so because they filter the particles emitted by their user during breathing to prevent them from going outside.

High-efficiency FPP mask

This type of mask protects the wearer. They are designed to filter the particles present in the environment , preventing them from being inhaled by the user.

There are FPP masks of different shapes, depending on their design. They can be conical, horizontal or vertical . In turn, depending on the filtration efficiency, they can be class 1, 2 or 3. The type of class is determined by the filter power against the toxicity of the pollutant and the environmental concentration present.

  • FPP1:78% filtration efficiency, environmental concentrations up to 4   VLA (Environmental Limit Value).
  • FPP2:92% filtration efficiency, ambient concentrations up to 12 VLA.
  • FPP3: 98% filtration efficiency, ambient concentrations up to 50 VLA.

The surgical mask protects others from being infected, but not the one who wears it

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How do I use the masks?

The most suitable mask must be used depending on the risk. However, before and after using the mask you should always wash your hands. Put on the mask before entering the contaminated area and remove it outside it. In addition, you must adjust it properly to get good protection .

It is important to change the mask after use, in case it gets wet or is damaged. It is also advisable to change the mask if breathing is excessive, for the same reason, since moisture condenses and loses its filtering capacity.

What type of mask should you use in each case?

The surgical mask should be used during the essential time and changed when changing the activity or moving from one environment to another. That would be the logical and appropriate use of this element.

FPP2 masks should be adjusted to the surface of the face, completely covering the nose and mouth to protect the mucosa . They should be used according to the protocol’s indications regarding isolation measures and other precautions for patients with communicable diseases. FPP3 masks are used in cases of exposure risk.

How to put on and take off your masks

It is important that you know how to correctly put on the mask to protect yourself properly. However, it is also important to know how to remove it. If both maneuvers are not done well, you run the risk of becoming contaminated or infected despite having used them.

Put on the mask

To put on the mask correctly, you must do it before entering the contaminated area and following these steps:

  1. Wash your handsand check the expiration date. The mask must not be defective in any of its elements.
  2. Put on the mask, but take into account the order of placement of the protection elements,if you will use others. This order is as follows: gown, hat, leggings, mask, glasses and gloves.
  3. Fit the mask properlyto get adequate protection. In case you use glasses, you have to take them off to put on and adjust the mask, and then put your glasses on.

Filter protection masks have different levels of filtering

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How do I put the  mask on correctly?

  1. Hold the mask with both hands, leaving the nose clip on the top edge. Shape the clip by folding it carefully in the center and open the mask by pulling on the bottom edge.
  2. Put the mask under your chinand pass the two bands over your head.
  3. Pass the lower band under the earsand the upper band through the crown .
  4. Mold the nose clipwith both hands to fit the shape of your nose.

Take off your mask

To remove the protection elements there is also a suitable order that is: gloves, glasses, leggings, hat and gown. Already outside the contaminated area you take off your mask . You must throw the mask in the appropriate container placed for this purpose, and then wash your hands.

Are masks always useful?

There are different types of masks to protect us, which filter out harmful particles present in the environment. It is important to choose the right one for each case and put it on correctly to have good protection. Not all masks are always useful, and sometimes they can even be counterproductive if they are not used properly.

 

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