I am writing this guide to explain the different types of mask and there uses. No products can be guarenteed to stop infection from any airbourne virus. Thus no item can be sold claiming to do so, but there are products that can be effective.
So the USA and CANADA mask standard recommended for use in prevention of disease spread is the N95. Click the link to see the Canadian Government Advice Site
In the UK the same standard is the FFP2. These are recommended for office workers, government officials etc. The Non Valved Mask is recommended because this masks filtration system still allows for easy breathing.
These come in 3 sizes Large, Medium and Small. The Medium is the standard for most adults, the small is sold for small adults but could be used for children although these are not sold as children's masks. These are moulded masks that fit the face. The most important consideration is that they are air tight and fit the face.
The small size is not suitable for younger children, as the bottom of the mask will hand over their chin and let air in, as well as the sides. Having researched products for younger children and babies I have been surprised by the lack of products. There is a product called the Nanomask, but I have tried to source and they have sold out worldwide.
The FFP3 masks offer the best protection, but are only intended for people who are coming in DIRECT CLOSE contact with people with the virus. Some FFP3 masks are vented, some are moulded and some are half fold masks, it doesn't matter what type of mask, if they have the SSP3 certification they offer the same protection.
Most the masks are disposable, single use, and can be used for a maximum of 8 hours. In the UK the NHS has allegedly ordered 32 million masks for it's workers which has started panic buying with most manufacturers and distributors being out of stock. The NHS have ordered these as a precautionary measure, just like the stock piles of Anti Viral drugs, but it does not mean they expect to use them.
An important note is that the masks that your dentist would wear are no good. Yes you will have seen them in the news reports, but it's a case of them being cheap and better than nothing. There are firms on Ebay selling these in kits with anti bacterial liquid calling them Swine Flu Prevention Kits. Ebay is removing listings like this but as they remove more are listed. Although they are probably better than nothing these are not good for preventing inhalation of airborne particles.
Other advice is to wash your hands regularly, and many countries like the UK are producing Guides and Commercials to advice on the best precautions.
In conclusion, although Government advice is not to buy masks, we understand many people will want to take precautions just in case. Although these masks can not be sold as Swine Flu Masks or similar, the only Masks you should consider for prevention of inhalation of airbourne particles are masks with either:
These masks can help in the prevention of inhalation of airborne particles
FFP2 standard or US N95 Standard. For everyone except health workers or people working IN CLOSE CONTACT with people.
FFP3 standard. The maximum protection, but difficult to find at a reasonable price.
I am writing a new guide for Non Disposable Respirators with Filters and for products for young children and babies.
I have tried to make the guide as accurate as possible, but with different guidelines for different countries around the world it is hard to produce the definitive guide. I take no responsibility for any injury, harm, or death caused by following any advice in my guide. I am not qualified in the medical profession so this guide is just an opinion and should be treated as that and not as advice.
30th April 2009