COVID-19 has transmuted into a global pandemic over the past few months. It is established that the virus spreads from one person to another through the droplets released into the air while talking, coughing, or sneezing. By merely putting on a mask, it can shield you from other folks while protecting them from you as well. For a mask to be truly effective, it has to work both ways. The practice of covering your face has already been made compulsory in many cities and states across the US.
Wearing Face Mask is the New Normal
This epidemic has altered life as we know it, and now the world is living in the new “normal”. Covering your face with a mask is a part of this new normalcy. While the masks have visible benefits, widespread usage has also found a plethora of shortcomings. Wearers might experience facial irritation, trouble in breathing, and moisture accumulation as well as foggy spectacles. One of the masks available to the public that many individuals don is a valved mask. Even though the valved face masks seem like an upgrade from the DIY masks or even the surgical masks, the reality is quite the opposite.
Best Face Mask Options
Get yourself a face mask that aligns with the WHO and CDC recommendations, like the NewRain’s non-medical KN95 or Daily Wear Disposable Protective Masks. It is essential to cover your mouth and nose adequately and make sure not to leave any openings between your skin and the mask. Avoid touching it with your hands while wearing it, and immediately use a sanitizer or wash your hands in case of contact. Keep your hands away from the front side at all times. Consider taking it off from behind, once you are done. Discard the mask immediately and do not reuse it if it is a disposable mask.
What are Valved Masks Good For?
Most masks are good enough to offer protection; however, experts discourage using the ones which have an embedded valve in them. The reasoning behind this is straightforward — unlike the regular masks, which filter the air that one inhales and exhales, a valve mask only filters the air one breathes in. The valve was created to lessen the humidity heat and moisture generated from donning a mask, thereby offering the wearer protection and comfort. Sadly, this renders the valved masks useless as a tool against the virus.
Valved respirators or masks were meant for industrial usage, initially. Coal miners and factory personnel would utilize them to safeguard themselves from dangerous particles while staying comfortable and relaxed during long shifts. The exhalation ability of the mask made them ideal for usage for extended periods. Imagine, what it would feel like to complete laborious work in confined spaces while covering your nose and mouth, and breathing nothing but humid and hot air. Unidirectional valve masks provide the workers with incredible relief to perform their duties smoothly.
How Do Valved Masks Work?
A kind of N95 masks, the valved masks include a one-way outlet, that allows the air to be exhaled through a square or round filter attached to one side of the mask. A valve is also featured in some of the commercial cloth masks. Such masks with exhalation valves are fantastic for physical activities and working out. They safeguard the user from any pathogens or microbes present in the air. Unfortunately, these masks do not protect the others from getting the disease, if the user is sick or is a carrier.
Valved Masks Cause More Harm than Good
Unfiltered air exhalation is allowed by valve masks, to keep the wearer comfortable and fresh. It poses a severe threat if the person has contracted the virus or is carrying it. They can infect people around them, as the exhaled air is unfiltered. Individuals nearby that are putting on simple cloth masks will not be safe. Cloth masks do not offer protection against pathogens in the air; rather, they protect the user’s germs from others.
The CDC’s face mask recommendation aimed to stop transmission of the virus from infected people to healthy individuals around them. Air released unfiltered through the mask’s valve defeats the primary purpose of the face masks, to filter the air you breathe in and breathe out. Many states have banned the usage of valve masks. Wearing such facemasks was prohibited by California’s Bay counties into effect since April 17, as a part of the mask order.
What if Valved Masks are not Banned in Your Area?
Even if you live in a place where valve masks have not been barred, you should still avoid wearing them. While you technically are still sporting a mask, which protects you from the pathogens floating in the air, it puts other individuals around you in danger. More so, if you happen to be infected, whether you are aware of it or not. If you have one, place tape or cloth over the valves, to seal them off before putting the mask on. It may make the mask a bit stuffier, but it is a necessary practice to make them less hazardous for others around you.