The real health dangers of fabric masks
- Written by Shirley Oronan
While you may think that wearing a fabric mask is helping to keep COVID-19 at bay, what you may not realise is that fabric masks present a new set of problems including severe health risks.
According to Scott Huntsman, if not managed properly, fabric masks can lead to respiratory disease and other issues.
Scott Huntsman is the founder and CEO of Australia’s leading medical products manufacturer, ALL- CAST PPE. The Sydney-based business manufactures quality Australian Level 3 masks for consumers and businesses including the health and medical sector, as well as a range of other devices and products.
Huntsman wants to raise awareness of the dangers and risks associated with fabric masks.
Fabric masks trap nasty bacteria
“Science Daily has reported that the incidence of respiratory infection and other issues is much higher in health care workers wearing cloth face masks compared to medical masks,” Huntsman said.
“In fact, it states that the global use of cloth masks should be discouraged.
“Some research suggests that the normal process of talking and exhaling through the mouth while wearing a face mask leaves fragments of harmful oral bacteria on the material which are then inhaled into the lungs. Some people suggest that long-term instances of this happening can lead to lung cancer.
“Unless you are able to wash a cloth face mask daily and limit your use of the mask to four hours, I would carry around a packet of disposable Level 3 masks as well. There is no point putting your health in danger by wearing an unclean cloth mask.”
Fabric masks have higher rates of infection
According to a study by the University of New South Wales, fabric mask wearers had higher rates of infection and that filtration provided by fabric masks was poor compared to surgical masks.
“The penetration of particles through fabric masks was almost double the amount at 97 percent compared to medical disposable masks at 44 percent. According to the researchers, moisture retention, their prolonged use and reuse, as well as poor filtration, may explain the increased risk of infection when people wore fabric masks,” Huntsman said.
Fabric masks increase droplet emissions
Another study conducted by researchers from Duke University on the efficiency of fabric masks, found that when people spoke, small droplets were expelled. According to the researchers, a fitted N95 mask resulted in the most effective reduction in droplet emissions, with a surgical mask relatively close behind.
“This research goes against the popular phrase - ‘anything is better than nothing’. Given this, it is important that people understand the importance of using Level 3 single-use masks as well. In fact, don’t go out unless you have spares in your bag,” Huntsman said.
There are no quality controls over fabric masks
“Quality comes into play, with many homemade fabric masks lacking the necessary number of layers to allow for adequate protection,” Huntsman said.
“People are making masks out of any old fabric they can get their hands on including stuff lying around the house. The quality of the fabric used can often be quite poor and very porous allowing particles including fluid to move through the material.
“This combined with masks not being washed regularly creates all types of issues and risks.”
Unhygienic and smelly
“Not only will not washing your fabric mask enough lead to a variety of unhygienic and detrimental issues due to the build-up of bacteria and virus materials, but it will also start to smell,” Huntsman added.
“No one wants to be around someone with a yucky-smelling unhygienic mask.”
ALL-CAST PPE offers the highest speed manufacturing of Level 3 surgical tie back and Ear Loop masks, with the capacity to increase production to over 2.5 billion Ear Loop masks a year. ALL-CAST PPE’s premier product is its Ear Loop mask, which are sold in packs of 50. These masks feature a safe and reliable three-layer structure, with the central filter layer comprising of non-woven electrostatically charged melt-blown material.