Mask pro and cons

Homemade (DIY) masks – pros and cons! Protection and safety

Last updated on May 5th, 2020

I am writing this, to give you some pros and cons of the homemade (DIY) masks. The mask, which is part of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the medical world are running low. Even hospitals are running out on N95 masks which are required by the nurses and doctors to help COVID-19 patients.

With the demand surging throughout people are looking to create their own. From any kind of fabric even. from a handkerchief to old clothes or any kind of breathable fabric.

I am not a medical expert, the knowledge I share is what I picked up during the pandemic. This knowledge I choose to share with you. I also want to point out the part of HEPA filter masks (made from vacuum cleaners) and that home quarantine is safer than any kind of PPE.

recommended read: How to make your own hand sanitizer that kills Coronavirus

Mask Chart for protection

mask efficiency chart protection
source: varsoyhealthcare.com

But for the average person, a mask is still probably not necessary. And as mask shortages continue, buying them up can take them away from medical workers that need them.

https://www.businessinsider.sg/wuhan-coronavirus-face-masks-not-entirely-effective-2020-1

This chart and quote say a lot already. I will let it sink in.

Benefits of having a mask

Benefits of having a mask

There are undoubtedly benefits of having one. First and foremost is the feeling that you have some form of protection. Protection against droplets being exhaled by the wearer. Forming some protection layer between yourself and someone else. Prevention of touching your own face.

Summarized:

  • You feel protected
  • You protect others from yourself
  • You get a layer of something between you and someone else
  • Prevents touches on the face

So I explicitly write, you feel protected, but are you protected? Do you know that if you touch the mask, or slide it down to talk, eat, drink you already forfeit the exact use-case of the mask in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Doctors, nurses and those in medical care working on the frontline switch their whole personal protective equipment in between every patient (NORMALLY! but shortage forces them to re-use old ones).

How none medial practiced people use it: use it for days and days, touching it here and there and lowering mask. (this is the wrong way)

So the con is, if you don’t know how to use it, it becomes very ineffective against what we seek protection against.

Best practices of a mask against novel coronavirus

Before putting it on, scrub your hands. Wash them very good for 20 seconds. Sing the happy birthday song twice. Do not forget to wash the outside as well.

Now your hands are clean, the first thing you are going to do is grab your mask and nothing else. Put it on your face and make sure it fits well. This is the first and last time you will be touching the front part of the mask.

This is the most difficult part of all now: Do not touch the front part or any part at all. You can touch the elastic cord, or earloops, to take off your mask.

This was the lifecycle of your sterile personal protective equipment. It was very short-lived!

Hepa Filters making it from vacuum bags

vaccuum cleaner bags with hepa filters
Vacuum cleaners use Hepa filter bags

This current trend in homemade masks contains a lot of misinformation. Yes, cars and some places use HEPA filters. But did you know that putting it right on top of your nose, the face is something that you want to avoid?

HEPA filters (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) contain glass fibers (source: APC filters). In between the glass fibers is where any particle is captured inside the fabric. You can imagine this is super small. So the glass fibers are small too, and while inhaling what do you think is going to happen.

Yes, you guessed it right. You are going to expose yourself to glass fibers. For long term effects, this study shows that breathing this will affect yourself more negative!

This study provides evidence that exposure to glass microfibers increases the risk of respiratory and skin symptoms, and has an exposure-response relation with breathlessness and skin symptoms.

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739167/

I saw it on YouTube with millions of hits! It can’t be wrong, right?

Is that person a medical expert? Ask yourself where does the source from. In my post, I try to write statements backed up by facts and studies. The only fact they show the HEPA material filters out bacteria viruses and more. But does that mean it’s suitable for direct use on your face.

Most of the HEPA filters affordable in the consumer market are meant for vacuum cleaners, air filters, but not as a face mask.

So how do I protect myself

Protect yourself and others by avoiding going out. Only go out when it is required to buy groceries. For the rest practice social distancing. Stay away from others and don’t let others come near.

Masks are only useful when used correctly and once. In the hands of someone unpracticed or uninformed, the mask can become a danger by giving a false sense of security.

My advice: Home Quarantine / Isolate yourself as much as possible. This is what I do during this moment.

  • Pros: Masks works if you know how to use it
  • Cons: Complex and difficult to use it for untrained and uninformed people

Remember most people needed to relearn how to wash hands properly, let alone using a mask. I leave it for the professionals and emergency workers in the hospitals. I stay at home

Thank you for reading, please share and stay safe!

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