Mask besides being the necessity of the time soon was picked up by fashion industry too as a statement of ‘Responsible Fashion’. However there are very few who understand the requirements of a mask to be effective both towards pollutants and antigens like viruses. People soon started wearing cloth masks matching to their attires and colors. Ignorance of the total protection being offered, people started believing that any mask will help. However that is not the case.
It is believed that only a cloth mask does not offer protection more than 20%. In fact wearing only a surgical mask also offers a protection of about 55%. However virologists and doctors found out a special way of ‘Knot and Tuck’.
A surgical/ medical mask worn like this offers protection of about 71%. But users at times found it difficult to use this as there is more pressure on ear lobes. Hence wearing for a longer time was found a little uncomfortable. At the same time if we keep it loose at the lobes, the efficiency comes down to 60%.
Wearing a surgical mask and topping it up with a cloth mask has proved to be effective by 85.4%. The mask has a tolerable levels of breathing and does not reduce oxygen supply. Life of the surgical mask is also extended. The outer cloth mask not only increases total efficacy but also supports ‘Responsible Fashion’ statement.
N95 masks which are available although do not require doubling up if worn properly. Also wearing two surgical masks one on top of other is marginally more effective than wearing a single mask. Hence it is not recommended to do that as well. Best is to either use a surgical mask with ‘Knot & Tuck’ or use a surgical and cloth mask in combination with surgical mask as the first layer of defense