The internet is full with different face mask offers.
A few points to keep in mind when looking at other possibilities.
- The highest quality (disposable) face masks are not available (i.e. the ‘official’ FFP2 and FFP3 masks). Any that are produced are reserved for chronically under-supplied medical facilities. Some governments have introduced laws making it obligatory for companies who stock these masks for their own production to hand them over to medical institutions.
- The FFP2 and FFP3 masks which are available are being offered for prices that are between 5 and 10 times higher than the pre-crisis prices.
- Listings on ebay from (mainly) Chinese vendors, offering less than perfect products:
- No good seal between the mask and the skin. This leaves room for particles to enter into the mask and to be inhaled. And in case of coughing/sneezing, particles will escape the mask and risk infecting others.
- Some masks are not made of cotton, but of urethane (a sort of plastic material) which is uncomfortable on the face. These masks cannot be washed well and the smooth surface entails risk of the virus adhering for longer periods of time. This type of face mask are made to deal with air polution – not protect against viruses.
- Masks where the filter is pressing too tightly against the mouth – making for an uncomfortable fit.
- Long delivery times.
The below shown mask contains a one-way air valve. These types of masks are popular in China in times of heavy air polution. Such a valve is added to make breathing out easier. The outgoing air does not pass through the filter. That is fine in a production environment with dusty air or during heavy air pollution in China. In fact, one wants any contamination to leave the inside of the filter in such conditions.
However, it is completely inappropriate in a corona virus time. A face mask is worn to protect the wearer against contracting the virus. AND it is worn to protect those around us against me unwittingly spreading the virus. If the air and particles can escape unfiltered through a breathing valve, there is a significant reduction of the protection of others.This is especially important because I can be infected and not know about it. And I would be at risk to infect other people by not being fully protected.
Most of these Chinese face masks have not been tested. And often they are not available from stock and carry long delivery times from China. We are producing locally, using a design which has been thoroughly tested by the University of Cambridge and researchers in the Netherlands, thus offering assurances that these will actually work to offer additional protection against the virus.
Not all masks are equal
Cheap, cheap seems to be an over-arching thought for too many while complying with the mask-wearing directive issued by the government. That is a pity - because a non-effective face mask does a disservice to the wearer and the people in the vicinity. This video from the Technical University in Delft, The Netherlands clearly shows the inferior protection offered by many face masks. Why trying to save a few quid and create more risk for yourselves and those around you?
Correctly wearing a face mask
Too often we still see people wearing face masks in inappropriate ways. It is as if they do not want to accept the importance of the face masks. Or don't care about other people around them. That's not smart when it is about their own health. But it is worse if they are potentially infectious and cause a danger to others.
Probably the most common mistake is to pull the mask under the nose and then breath through the nose and let the droplets escape ("so much easier breathing for me"). Fortunately a good solution is available from Duuja - the Airbox. See here for more details.