With face masks becoming more and more the norm and seeing people wearing all different types, it can become confusing about what is the best type of face mask. But when it comes to face masks, there is no one ‘best type’. There are a number of factors to consider, and masks that are great for one purpose may not be the best option for another purpose.
The best type of face mask is one that meets the regulatory standards of the situation that it is intended for. For example, the best face mask for medical environments or during asbestos removal is those that meet the specific regulations for that industry. Therefore, the best face masks for those jobs are different from the best face mask for low-risk situations like shopping.
So how do you know which face mask you need?
The best way to determine which face mask you need is to learn a bit about what types of facemasks are out there. That way you can understand the benefits of each type and make an informed decision. Read on to learn more about the different types of masks.
Is a Cloth Mask the best?
The beauty of a cloth mask is that it is reusable and cost effective. You can buy one or make your own. The downside is that you don’t really know how effective they are in filtering the air that you breathe as different materials have densities of weave and they have not been tested or regulated.
Just remember, the higher the thread count of the material, the better the filtration. And multi-layer material masks filter better than single layers.
The best type of cloth mask is generally one that comes with a pocket for a filter. Even a multi-layer cloth mask will provide better protection if you insert a PM2.5 filter in it, or even just a piece of paper towel provides decent filtration protection.
A cloth mask is not advisable in situations that require high filtration such as medical environments, or in construction situations where there is asbestos or concrete dust. But we think the cloth mask is the best choice for low-risk situations such as shopping and general public use since it is good for the environment, cost efficient and easily accessible.
What is the best face mask for construction?
The best type of face mask for construction is a particulate respirator. You probably have heard of P2 / N95 / KN95 Face Masks. These all belong to the group of particulate respirators.
The reason why these are the best for construction is that they provide a secure seal on your face. This means that asbestos particles or silica dust can not bypass the filter and still get breathed in.
- P3 offers ≥99.95% filtration of particles >0.3 microns.
- P2 offers ≥94% filtration of particles >0.3 microns, and
- P1 offers≥80% filtration of particles >1 micron
A valved particulate respirator is suitable for construction as the valve helps remove moisture from within the mask. On a hot sunny day working outside, this can be a great comfort feature. But note, a valved particulate respirator is designed for construction and should not be used in medical situations and the air being breathed out is not filtered.
When you buy a medical mask you know that it has been tested for filtration and water resistance. They are made from melt-blown fabric and provide good filtration of the air that comes toward you. This is important for situations where you need protection from direct sprays such as talking and coughing.
They do not have the tight facial seal that the particulate respirators have, and unfiltered air can bypass the filter through the gaps. This is why in some medical applications; particulate respirators are also required.
But in most medical situations, a standard mask is the best option for the job. It provides a decent amount of filtration protection, while also being cost-effective.
They come in level 1, 2 or 3 grades based on the level of filtration and fluid resistance required.
- Level 3: maximum barrier protection: for heavy levels of aerosols, spray and/or fluids.
- Level 2: moderate barrier protection: for low to moderate levels of aerosols, spray and/or fluids.
- Level 1: low barrier protection: general use for short procedures and exams that don’t involve aerosols, spray or fluids (also known as examination masks).
So what is the best type of face mask?
The best type of face mask is one that is suited to the job at hand. A medical mask simply would not provide you enough protection when dealing with asbestos or concrete dust, but it is the best mask for most medical environments. Similarly, a cloth mask is the best option for public use, due to it being able to be washed and reused, and is easily accessible.