Since the 24th of July 2020, the government has issued mandatory advice for members of the public in England to wear face coverings or masks in places when social distancing isn’t possible. This includes public transport, shops and supermarkets and buildings like banks or post offices.
What protection can a mask give me?
Different face masks provide different levels of protection, based on the number of filter material layers(1). The level of filter provided by a mask depends on the size of particles (measured in microns).
There’s also some evidence(2) that face masks help to reduce the respiratory particles you emit when you talk, cough or sneeze for example. This helps to protect those around you.
What are microns?(3)
A micron is a unit of measurement for length, something that is only 1 micron wide is not visible by the human eye. A strand of your hair, for example, is around 50 microns wide. Microns tend to be used to measure cell size and particle filtration.
What are the different types of face masks available?
Surgical Face Masks – Lower filtration Protection
They are suitable for covering your mouth and nose in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and to help reduce the particles you emit. However, they are unable to filter out virus-containing droplets due to their small micron size.
Type II Masks: Lower filtration protection
These masks filter 95% of larger airborne particles (3 microns in size) (4). They are suitable for covering your mouth and nose in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and to help reduce the particles you emit.
Type IIR Masks: Lower filtration protection
These masks as they filter 98% of larger airborne particles (3 microns in size) (4). They are suitable for covering your mouth and nose in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and to help reduce the particles you emit.
The Type II and Type IIR masks meet the EN14683 standard of protection.
Respirator Masks – Higher filtration protection
They protect against small droplets and particles including, aqueous and oily aerosols, smoke and fine dust. For this reason, respirator masks are most effective for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
KN95 Masks: Very High filtration protection
These masks filter 95% of smaller airborne particles (0.3 microns in size) (4). The WHO recommends these for use in places such as coronavirus wards or if you’re particularly high risk. They are a sealed fit, which offer a tighter fit around your nose and mouth than other types of mask.
The KN95 masks meet the GB2626-2006 standard of protection
Reusable Face Masks
Reusable face masks and face coverings which can be washed and re-worn again and again can be a more sustainable and cost-effective choice. We have a wide variety of reusable face masks which are breathable, comfortable and covers the nose and mouth to keep those around you protected from infection and germs.
For face masks to be effective, you need to make sure you’re using them correctly. For more information, here’s our blog on what you need to know about using face masks.