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Double-masking can increase your protection

Double-masking can increase your protection

Quicker- and easier-spreading variants of the coronavirus are making some wonder if they should upgrade their mask, or double up with ones they already own. In a question posed to Curious Philly — our platform where readers ask us questions and reporters hunt down the answers — a reader asked:To get more news about mask supplier, you can visit official website.

For starters, N95 masks are considered the gold standard, but they’re not currently recommended for the general public. Unlike cloth and surgical masks, every N95 must be tested rigorously by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a branch of the CDC. To get a NIOSH stamp of approval, each mask must filter out a minimum of 95% of very small particles in the air.
But because supply remains limited, the CDC says N95s should be reserved for health-care workers. Unless you’re an essential worker, you’re advised to seek out masks with two or more layers of washable, breathable, tightly woven fabric, like cotton, or three-ply surgical masks. When worn correctly, these will help prevent you from getting and spreading COVID-19.

“You probably don’t need to achieve that 95% because your exposure to the virus isn’t likely to be at the sustained amount that, for example, a dental worker may encounter,” says Neal Goldstein, an assistant research professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University. “But regardless of the type of mask you’re wearing, you still have to follow the basic health guidelines — social distancing, proper hand hygiene, avoiding crowds.”

However, if you’re interested in upgrading your mask, there are more readily available alternatives to N95 masks, like the KN95 mask. It’s the standard in China, and while KN95 masks aren’t tested by NIOSH, they’re rated to filter out 95 percent of airborne particles. “As long as you can verify that your mask is an actual KN95, and it fits properly, it will protect you better than a standard cloth mask or surgical, medical-grade mask,” says Craig Shapiro, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

As Shapiro points out, verifying that your mask is actually a KN95 is important. In the United States, 60 percent of KN95 masks are counterfeit, according to the CDC. Before making a purchase, consult the FDA’s list of approved masks and the CDC’s guidance on KN95s.

It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing one, two, or six masks — if the mask(s) doesn’t fit properly, you lose the benefit. “I would rather wear a well-fitting cloth mask than a poor-fitting surgical mask,” says Shapiro.

However, a verified KN95 or three-ply surgical mask that fits snug to your face is going to be a step up from most cloth masks. “Even your best cloth masks probably aren’t going to offer the same protection as a medical-grade mask,” says Shapiro.

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