Since December 2019, the world is fighting against the Coronavirus which is the cause of several hundred thousand deaths. Many measures have been dictated to prevent the spread of this virus.
Among all these measures, one of them is controversial: the use of a breathing mask to protect oneself.
At first considered useless for people who were not ill, today we are witnessing a reversal of the situation. The Academy of Medicine recommends the wearing of a "general public" or "alternative" mask by the entire population, as is the case in Luxembourg.
Similarly, in his speech on 13 April, President Emmanuel Macron said, with regard to protective masks, that "the State will have to allow every French person to obtain a mask for the general public" and that its wearing could be compulsory for certain professions and in public transport.
Then why are these protective masks useful? How do they protect us? How do you use your face mask properly? The answers in this article!
What's a respirator? What's a respirator?
A respirator, also known as a "protective mask", provides a physical barrier between an individual's airway and the outside.
Placed on the mouth and nose, the mask will prevent the projection of secretions from the upper airways or saliva that may contain bacteria and/or viruses when the person wearing the protective mask exhales.
In fact, these masks are usually worn by surgeons in the operating room to prevent contamination of surgical wounds by bacteria from the surgeons' mouths.
Some masks also help to protect the wearer from inhaling contaminated air particles.
What are the different protective masks that exist?
Since the beginning of the epidemic there hasn't been a day that goes by without hearing about protective masks.
However, several types of masks exist and do not all provide the same degree of protection:
- The FFP2 mask It is composed of a mask and a filtration device. It will protect the wearer against the risk of inhaling infectious agents by stopping at least 94% of the aerosols. It is THE protective mask par excellence!
- The surgical mask It is part of the "anti-projection" masks. This means that it prevents the spread of contaminated droplets and particles to the person wearing the mask.
- The "general public" mask: this is the mask that is not considered "medical". That is to say that it is neither an FFP2 mask nor a surgical mask.
Faced with the shortage of protective masks, we have seen in recent weeks the effervescence of this type of mask. Indeed, hundreds of tutorials on the net have been created in order to be able to make it yourself. They are generally made of fabric or paper, but other materials can be used such as leather or cork! Although the protection provided by these masks is less than that of medical masks, they still constitute significant protective barriers.
Moreover, a model of artisanal mask has been approved by the CHU of Grenoble. And the French Association for Standardization (AFNOR) has published a reference document in which we find the requirements to be met in order to manufacture an effective mask.
Faced with the shortage of masks, the so-called "medical" masks are only reserved for healthcare personnel because they provide better protection.
But don't panic, your face mask for the general public will still protect you!
Discover our cork mask and our leather mask which fall into this category.
Are protective masks really useful in the fight against Coronavirus?
Until recently, we had no evidence of the effectiveness of respirators for the Coronavirus.
Fortunately, a team of researchers in Hong Kong had become interested in the problem some time before the outbreak began. They were able to show that surgical masks could reduce the presence of contaminated aerosols and droplets in the environment. (Respiratory virus sheddinq in exhale breath and efficacy of face masks, Nancy et al. 2020).
Thus, worn by a person suffering from the Coronavirus, the face mask helps to prevent the contamination of those around them.
But then why wear one if you're not sick?
Many people are what we call "healthy carriers", meaning that they have contracted the virus without knowing it because they do not show any symptoms. However, these people are capable of infecting other people! Hence the usefulness of the breathing mask to fight against the Coronavirus!
How do I use my breathing mask properly?
"It's okay, I bought my mask, I'm not afraid anymore! »
NO! It is very important to learn how to use it.
Indeed, a mask in the hands of a person who does not know how to use it is useless and can have all the opposite effect of the one you are looking for...
How do you do it then? Don't panic, rules have been dictated by the WHO and with a little training and concentration, everyone is able to use their mask properly in no time.
Here are a few tips:
- Before putting on a mask, it is essential to wash your hands with a hydroalcoholic solution or with soap and water;
- The mask should cover the mouth AND nose and fit snugly over the face;
- When wearing a mask, it is imperative to avoid touching it, if touched, hands should be washed with a hydroalcoholic solution or soap and water;
- Remove the mask from behind and especially not from the front!
- Wash if reusable or discard if not and wash hands immediately with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
Read our maintenance and user guide!
What are the rules to be followed to be well protected with a breathing mask?
In addition to the handling of the safety mask, which is an essential part of its use, several other rules must be observed if you want to be protected to the maximum.
First of all, you have to remember to clean your face mask.
Indeed, the effectiveness of a protective mask decreases over time. So if we keep the same mask on our face all day long, in the end we are no longer protected at all!
It must then be cleaned rigorously: for fabric or cork masks it is necessary to wash it for at least 30 minutes in a washing machine at 60° with a conventional cleaning product.
For a leather mask, the leather and the fastening woollens must be cleaned with a hydro-alcoholic solution.
Finally, the mask must be perfectly dry before use and preferably stored in a secluded place where no one can cough or sneeze on it.
In conclusion, the wearing of breathing masks by the entire population seems to be a key element in the fight against the coronavirus... Provided that it is well used and always associated with the barrier actions recommended by the Ministry of Health.