Mask Mandates and Which One Is Best For You

The coronavirus continues to surge throughout the United States and there has been an increase in conversations surrounding statewide mask mandates. According to a report conducted by ABC News, 28 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico require masks to be worn. Masks have proven to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “... face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus…”

The increased demand for face masks has led to a shortage, felt worldwide. From purchasing simple 3-ply face masks to DIY cloth coverings, and everything in between, people have been scrambling to get their hands on these commodities. The demand for masks is simply outpacing the supply. With so many types and brands of masks on the market, it can be difficult to determine the best type of mask to purchase as well as identify counterfeit products. So, let's discuss:

  1. The types of masks available and their effectiveness.
  2. Purchasing the right mask for you.
Here’s our guide to help you make the best purchase possible!

Types of Masks & Their Effectiveness

The common types of masks we’ve heard about throughout the coronavirus pandemic are 3-ply masks, cloth masks, and the N95 and KN95 respirators. These masks are commodities that people did not have to differentiate between prior to the pandemic. Here’s a quick overview on each kind of mask and how effective each one is:

3-ply Mask

The 3-ply masks consist of three protective layers. The outermost layer is designed to be waterproof, the middle layer functions as a filter, while the innermost layer works to absorb any moisture inside the mask. These layers, in tandem, work to prevent large particles and respiratory droplets from entering and exiting the mouth. Research suggests that the 3-ply mask prevents the outward movement of breath by 90 percent.

Cloth Mask

Cloth masks are intended to trap droplets that are released by the wearer when they talk, cough, or sneeze. These simple masks focus on source control, preventing the wearer from spreading their germs onto others. Cloth masks can be made using household items like an old scarf or T-shirt. These DIY face coverings consist of layers but typically won’t have filters like the ones in the 3-ply masks. A benefit of having a cloth mask is the ability to wash and reuse it.

N95 Respirator

The N95 is one of the more commonly known in the United States. It creates an airtight seal around the nose and mouth of the wearer and helps to filter up to 95 percent of particles. The mask uses a two- strap attachment, one above the ears and the other over the back of the head. Something to note about the N95 respirator is that it is regulated by the CDC and NIOSH. The FDA will only regulate it if it is manufactured and marketed for medical purposes.

KN95 Respirator

Lastly, we have the KN95 respirator. This mask functions similarly to the N95, filtering up to 95% of particles. The mask uses the ear loop method of wearing, making it more comfortable to wear and easier to remove. This mask can serve as an alternative to wearing an N95 respirator. The major differentiator between the KN95 and the N95 respirators is that KN95’s are typically regulated by the Chinese government. This means the masks are not measured up to the standards of the CDC and NIOSH. However, due to the pandemic the CDC has allowed for their use in both medical and non-medical arenas. 

So, which mask should you purchase?

Purchasing the Best Mask

As seen above, these masks are all effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. But, they all demonstrate key differences. Which one should you be purchasing?
A cloth covering offers source control and reusability but does not provide the same level of filtration 3-ply masks do for the wearer. On the other hand, 3-ply masks do not filter as many particles as the N95 and KN95 masks, they only filter 90 to 95 percent of particles. When we move on to comparing N95 and KN95 masks, it is important to take into account who the wearers of the masks are.
Both the N95 and KN95 masks offer 95 percent filtration of particles. The airtight seal of the N95 makes it an invaluable protective layer for frontline healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are directly exposed to the novel coronavirus for extended periods of time, putting them at a higher risk of contracting the virus. The limited supply of N95 respirators should be reserved for these frontline workers and not bought by the general public.
This leaves the KN95 respirator, offering better filtration than cloth covering and the 3-ply masks while serving as an effective alternative to the N95 respirator. As previously mentioned, KN95 masks are typically regulated by the Chinese government and not measured to the standards of the CDC and NIOSH. How do you ensure you do not purchase a counterfeit product?
Beta Sciences is an American distributor of PPE, based out of Florida. They offer a line of KN95 disposable masks that are FDA and CE certified. This ensures that buyers are receiving a product that has gone through the proper regulation avenues and will be effective. We invite you visit Beta Sciences to learn more at www.BetaSciences.com