Masks have unfortunately become part of our daily routine, and will remain so until the coronavirus is definitively controlled, which we hope will be as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we believe that the population should have as much information as possible on this subject, more than anything else to avoid a misuse of the masks that could have dire consequences. This has been understood by the health authorities in practically all countries of the world, who have been quick to publish information notes giving clear indications to avoid contagion, including indications on the types of masks and their uses.
Thus, it can be indicated that there are three main types of masks:
– Surgical: which are the ones that should be used mainly by sick people. They are an effective barrier both to protect themselves from the outside and to protect other people (although their use has to be combined with the rest of the established social protection and hygiene measures: 2 metres of interpersonal distance, combined with hand hygiene, among others). Their period of use is marked on their label, and they should be discarded as soon as they are dirty or have a certain degree of humidity. There are two grades within the surgical ones: Type I and Type II, the latter have a water-repellent treatment that allows rejecting blood and liquid splashes in general.
– Hygienic: these are generally used by the non-contaminated population and there is a great variety of models, so general rules cannot be established and we must follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. In your bag you will indicate, for example, if they are reusable, the degree of filtration efficiency, their breathability, and the tests to which they have been subjected. There are three types of tests: Those that comply with the UNE 0064 and 0065 standards, those that have been subjected to other non-UNE tests and those that have not been tested or verified.
– PPE ( Personal Protection Equipment ): these are the ones to be used by those people who are in contact with the virus. And they are classified in three levels, according to the effectiveness of the degree of protection: FFP1 (the most effective), FFP2 and FFP3 (the least effective). This group includes masks with an exhalation valve, which, as has been reported for some time now, are valid for protection from the outside, but are not recommended for use by contaminated people, since the valve can allow the virus to escape and infect others.
In future entries, Biosalud will give detailed information on each of these families of masks.