The UK Government recently added to the confusion over when and how to use Type llR masks when it posted a tweet on the official Department of Health and Social Care Twitter page advising people not to wear medical grade face masks. The Government also asked people not to wear facemasks with valves or air holes as they do not protect others. While we agree with the second part of the UK government’s statement regarding face masks with valves and air holes as being potentially dangerous for people other than the wearer, asking people not to buy and wear Type llR medical grade face masks flew in opposition to messages they were sending stating that the Government and medical institutions had enough medical grade face masks in supply and storage. If this was the case, then why ask people not to use the very best protection possible to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
Either the Government has a shortage of medical grade face masks and should be buying and procuring from companies such as PopOn Facemasks Ltd who manufacture and distribute in the UK, or be happy that its current supply chain is providing adequate supplies. This is not the time to confuse people or guilt them into not using the safest facemask available, especially when there are adequate supplies available. At PopOn, we can produce millions of 3-ply Type llR medical grade disposable face masks a month. All PopOn Type llR facemasks are manufactured in the UK to the highest standards, complying with EU and UK standards and exceeding the guideline set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Putting the Government clouding the issue to one side though and the answer to the question “when and how to use Type llR mask?” should be straightforward. The simple answer is when and where there may be a risk to you or others from contracting coronavirus due to unknown factors. By which we mean, you’d pop on a facemask in a situation where you were unable to keep a two metre social distance, situations where you were mixing with people who you don’t know and therefore have no idea of their backgrounds relating to who they have mixed with or come in contact with. Another area is on public transport. You have to think, if you don’t know the people, your have no idea of their backgrounds and who they mix with, so how can you be sure? In these circumstances, you can only protect yourself and the best way is through a medical grade Type llR disposable face mask.
When to use masks to protect from covid
To some degree it is a lottery choosing when to use masks to protect from covid. Though the government has clearly laid out guidelines for our safety which must be adhered to and with good reason. As we have already stated, every time you are in situations where social distancing cannot be safely assured to enter and mix in that environment would be an act of Russian Roulette. You would have no idea who may or may not be carrying the disease/virus. There simply is no practical way of knowing if someone has the virus, or has had it, or is choosing not to self-isolate. There are some super-spreaders who are highly contagious who show no outward signs, and short of using a thermometer and a saliva test, there would be no way of knowing at all. So, wearing a face mask is the only viable option that protects others as well as yourself; therefore, a medical grade Type llR facemask is the best option for that purpose.
The Government has stated that face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in a number of indoor premises, including visitors to storage and distribution facilities. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. However, you have to remember the golden rules of wearing a face mask. It is important to use face masks properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off. Also remember that some people don’t have to wear a face covering for a number of reasons including for health, age or equality reasons. People may struggle with this is they are wearing a face mask and see perfectly normal looking people not wearing one. Not all disabilities are obvious and as long as you have a safe face mask, one that protects both ways and filters, then you have not only minimised your exposure to risk but you have ensured that people who may be vulnerable but can’t wear a face mask are also safe.
New rules say every single person in the UK must now wear a face mask in shops and on public transport
By now you should have some idea why you must wear a face mask and in what circumstances. However, what happens if you fail to comply and don’t wish to wear a face mask. Ultimately, the biggest penalty you will face will be to your health and running the risk of a serious illness or worse. The Government though has instructed the police to act as arbiters in situations where non-compliance of face mask wearing is taking place. Wearing a face mask to protect the lives of yourself, your loved ones and other people is not a huge disposition for a few minutes to a few hours a day, but it is a free country and if you decide not to wear a face mask with no good reason to support it, then you need to know the consequences as far as the law is concerned. Premises where face coverings are required should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law.
The police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a facemask or covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service. If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence. Repeat offenders receiving fines on public transport or in an indoor setting will have their fines doubled at each offence. After the first offence, there will be no discount. For example, receiving a second fine will amount to £400 and a third fine will be £800, up to a maximum value of £6,400. A 3-ply Type llR medical grade disposable face mask costs pennies when bought in multiple packs. Is belligerence worth a minimum £100 fine for a very short amount of inconvenience?
Wearing Disposable masks correctly
Each face mask and covering has their own unique fittings, but for 3 ply medical grade Type llR facemasks, we can tell you the best way to not only handle the face mask but also how to wear it correctly. Surgical and medical grade face masks, such as 3 ply Type llR facemasks are made with a non-woven, splash proof, fluid repellent outer layer that is coloured – usually light blue or green – and the coloured side always goes on the outside. This puts the softer white inner absorbent layer on the inside, closest to the nose and mouth. This captures and absorbs moisture, reducing the chance of any mucus or bacteria from leaving the mask when the wearer coughs or talks. The middle layer is a highly efficient filter and in Type llR face masks, such as those made by PopOn, have 98% bacterial filtration efficiency. The middle layer is where the hard work is done, capturing viruses and bacteria. Any particles which get past the outside layer is filtered here, protecting the wearer. Never use the weld spot where the elastic ear loops are attached as a guide to the correct side to wear the facemask. The reason is that elastic ear loops can be placed on the either inner layer of the outer layer, depending on who makes the face mask. This does not in any way affect the efficiency of the face mask.
Here is a step by step guide to help you ensure you and those around you remain safe while you wear a Type llR face mask.
- Place the elastic bands around your ears
- Extend the expandable section above the nose and below the chin. Make sure the face mask fully covers the mouth, nose, and chin
- Bend the metallic strip at the top of the mask over nose bridge. The face mask should sit snuggly to the face. It is not meant to be air-tight, but close fitting
- Avoid touching the surgical face mask after putting it on. If you do, wash your hands afterwards
- Discard used face masks in the bin and always wash your hands after use
Don’t expose your nose!
We have all seen them, you know the ones. They are usually walking down the aisles of the supermarket or in the queue in the post office or filling their car at the petrol station. They are wearing a face mask, but something is not quite right. You look at them, then do a double take…Their nose is fully exposed. The face mask is covering their mouth and chin, it is even the correct way round (well, on most!). The ear loops are perfectly over their ears. They have done everything right…except for some strange reason, which only they can fathom, their nose is totally uncovered. Well, it’s not like the coronavirus would be so cunning as to enter through the nose, is it?
The logic behind this decision to half wear a face mask is truly baffling.
We know some people don’t like their lenses fogging up but there are some simple steps to avoid this. One simple tip is to ensure the bridge of your glasses sit over the material of the face mask. Usually, your breath fogs your glasses because they sit on your nose and the air that passes from your nose or mouth and travels between the gaps. By sitting the face mask on the material, hot air is redirected away from your lenses totally by-passing the lenses. Another tip is to tighten the ear loops to ensure the mask fits snugly. You can do this by twisting the elastic loops into an ‘X’ and securing them over your ears. The closer fit will ensure less warm air escapes around the bridge of the nose. There is a scene in the Stephen Spielberg movie ‘Jaws’ where the character Hooper, played brilliantly by Richard Dreyfuss, goes into the water in an ‘anti-shark cage’. Before he submerges in the sea, he takes off his glasses to put on a diving mask and he tries to spit into the diving mask to stop it fogging up. In the film, Hooper claims he “ain’t got no spit”, however, what he is trying to do is perfectly valid as a method to stop lens fog before wearing a face mask, if there are no alternatives and you can’t for any reason place your glasses on the material of the facemask.
Spit actually adds a transparent layer and adds a coating to stop lenses fogging. So does soap, cleaning lenses with either soap from a bar or even washing up liquid also adds a layer which stops lenses fogging. Wash your lenses in warm soapy water and let them dry in the air. The invisible coating the soap leaves acts as a surfactant or active agent that stops the water molecules from forming droplets that lead to fog. Other home remedies include shampoo, and even toothpaste. Though caution is advised with certain products which could lead to eye irritation and/or lens damage. Most toothpastes for instance have particles which polish and could damage the lens quality if repeatedly used. The simplest hack of all though is to spend a few moments moulding the flexible nose bar on a Type llR face mask to ensure a good fit and make sure your glasses fit on the material. Remember, don’t expose your nose. The face mask is designed to cover your face from the nose down and that is how it should be worn at all times.
It’s not designed as a nappy for your chin!
Another no-no is the person who wears a face mask as a chin cradle. A Type llR face mask is not designed as a nappy for your chin. This is also one of the fastest ways to cross contaminate a mask and self-infect through breathing in any bacteria or virus that may have landed on your chin and throat area and then pulling the facemask up over your nose and mouth inhaling all the nasties the mask was purposely designed to keep out. It is easier to remove the mask completely than run the risk of wearing it under your chin. The Type llR face mask is designed to protect but can only be effective if worn properly and safe measures are carried out such as regular hand washing and sanitising when hand washing is not possible. If your face mask has worked properly, there may for all you know be coronavirus microbes adhered to the water repellent outer layer. If this is the case and you lazily pull the face mask under your chin there is a high risk that your neck and throat may also have those microbes which the facemask has successfully kept from entering your nose or mouth. Then you pull the mask back up and hey presto, just like magic, you are inhaling a feast of microscopic nasties, a smorgasbord of viral disease. For the sake of a few seconds taking the mask off properly, it could save your life. Being lazy and opting for a chin nappy could lead to disaster, especially when you remember what ends up in a nappy!
The benefits of wearing Medical grade masks
By now I hope we have convinced you of the benefits of wearing medical grade masks, but if not let’s spend a little time looking at the alternatives. The moment a person breathes or talks, sneezes or coughs, a fine spray of liquid particles become projectiles. Some are large, visible, even, and referred to as droplets; others are microscopic, and categorized as aerosols. Viruses including Covid-19 hitch rides on these particles. Droplets like these can propel through the air and land on a nearby person’s eyes, nose, or mouth to cause infection. You may not even feel these droplets, but gravity quickly acts pulling them down in most cases, but it is their ability to travel and land on surfaces that makes the coronavirus so transmittable. A medical grade Type llR facemask not only acts as a barrier to those airborne and surface viruses it provides reassurance to those around that they are protected too should the person wearing the mask be contagious.
It’s unhygienic to wear the same mask twice
A Type llR face mask is a disposable face mask and as such is designed to be worn and disposed of safely. These masks are cheap to purchase and meant for single use. Defining single use shouldn’t be necessary but simply remember it is unhygienic to wear the same mask twice. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States of America recommends wearing face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus, but for those who wear disposable masks, there’s a frequent question: Can disposable masks be re-worn? The CDC advice adds ambiguity and risk but clearly states “Yes, but only if you take care of them correctly.” The caveats are only if you haven’t touched your facemask. Epidemiologists at the Yale School of Public Health who studies respiratory infections noted that touching the mask can transfer virus particles onto the surface and added the caution that If you do touch your mask, wash your hands with soap and water or with sanitisers for surety. Clearly, the safest option is to only wear a disposable face mask for the duration you need it and dispose of it safely. Always wash your hands before putting on a facemask and immediately after taking one off.
Very few people actually bother to wash reusable masks
The real risks with reusable facemasks are very few people actually bother to wash reusable face masks or wash them often enough. The other challenge is ensuring those with changeable filters regularly change them. The environments inside a hot reusable face mask can be breeding grounds for bacteria if they are not kept scrupulously clean. This is why Type llR disposable masks have the edge apart from their superior protection and comfort. Reusable masks are purchased because of their perceived convenience but can be nothing more than harbingers of ill health if not washed very after every use. They have no special magic powers that keep bacteria and viruses away. They cannot isolate germs and the term reusable is a misnomer in terms of health protection.
In reality, there is nothing more reusable about a reusable face mask than any other facemask. We don’t recommend reusing a disposable facemask, so why would you think it is perfectly safe to keep reusing a reusable face mask. The rules that apply to a reusable face mask should be more stringent than the convenience of wearing a disposable facemask. With a disposable face mask, it’s cheap, you wear it when you need it and you safely dispose of it after use. With a reusable face mask you should wash it at a high enough temperature to kill any trapped bacteria or viruses at least at the end of every day in preparation for the next day you wear it. The same goes for reusable face masks with filters though, again, the filter should be replaced regularly. It seems to me that there is a lot of faff and uncertainty with a reusable face mask. The safest and surest option when going out is to pop on a Type llR medical grade disposable face mask to protect everyone.