With the rise of COVID-19, face masks, gloves, and hand sanitiser have become huge parts in our day-to-day lives. As both members of the public and professionals are now required to wear PPE in certain situations, the sales of such items have gone through the roof. But do you really know what you’re buying and why?
When referring to PPE in the case of COVID-19, it’s worn to protect yourself as well as others from contracting or spreading the virus. In this article, we explore the three most used forms of PPE and why they’re so important when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
1. Face masks (Respiratory protection)
In the UK, it’s currently a legal requirement to wear a face covering when visiting a shop, using public transport, and in various other settings (a full list of locations can be found here).
The most recognisable mask is the 3 Ply Disposable Surgical Mask. Traditionally worn by professionals in the healthcare industry, they act as a barrier, trapping and preventing the spread of the virus and other bacteria. They offer a comfortable fit and should be carefully thrown away after use to ensure bacteria isn’t spread to surrounding surfaces.
There are a wide range of facemasks available that will protect you and others against COVID-19, and we’ve covered this in one of our recent blogs: What type of facemask best protects against coronavirus?
When looking to purchase a face mask, you need to understand what’s best for your situation. For example, you may have come across valved face masks. These masks are designed for prolonged use, as they allow exhaled air to escape from the mask, while stopping dust, fibres and other nasties from being inhaled. Valved face masks should not be used for general wear by the public, including shop visits and when using public transport. Why? Any living virus or bacteria are being exhaled from the mask, putting others in danger of contracting COVID-19.
For a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, look for a mask that meets that European Standards EM:14683. For a mask to meet this standard, it must include the following:
- A Bacteria Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 98% or above
- A Particulate Filtration Efficiency of 99% or above
- A fluid resistance of 80 mmHg or above
- A Differential Pressure (Delta P) of 3.0mm or below (This measures breathability, a low value is better)
Without proper use of facemasks, people infected with COVID-19 are likely to spread the virus onto surrounding surfaces, potentially infecting other people too. So, be sure to wear a face mask where required, and ensure it’s fit for purpose.