We’ve all heard about the importance of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But how effective are they? Do some masks protect us better than others? Is this the only safety measure we can take? In short, the question is, are face masks good enough to keep building occupants safe during this pandemic?
Face Masks and COVID-19
The coronavirus infects the mucus lining of the nose and throat. It also goes deeper into the mucus of the windpipe and lungs. When we cough, sneeze, speak—any time saliva gets released—the virus spreads through the air where it can infect others. These droplets also land on hard surfaces. Once these surfaces get touched by people who then touch their mouths, eyes, or nose, they also can become infected and tiny particles can remain in the air for hours. Some of these ultra-fine particles can pass through the material of some types of face masks. This may lead you to ask, what good are face masks?
The answer is, face masks offer protection for both infected and uninfected persons. For a person with the virus, a face mask prevents the droplets from spreading via aerosol transmission. Likewise, it protects healthy people from breathing in these droplets. The more people who wear masks in public the safer we will all be.
Which Face Masks are Good, Better, and Best?
The masks that offer the most protection against COVID-19 are the KN95, N95, and FFP2 respirators. These masks form an airtight seal and offer several layers of protection against ultra-fine droplets.
Single-use surgical masks block larger droplets, but not the ultra-fine particles. The scarves and fabric masks that people make at home are good enough to offer some protection. They are washable so they are reusable as well. But, they only have one layer and do not prevent ultra-fine droplets from passing through. Of course, for the best protection, face masks must be worn properly.
Even when worn the right way, face masks alone are not enough to protect staff and visitors to your facilities. Building managers must create safety plans that also include surface cleaning, social distancing, testing, and monitoring.
Testing for the Coronavirus
Social distancing and face masks are an important first step, but so is detection. Environmental surface testing provides the information needed to determine risk. It also gives building managers the green light to introduce prevention and control measures. Managers or building engineers can collect the samples themselves, then send them to the EDLab for testing. The resulting report offers accurate results.
Decontamination efforts follow the detection of the virus. If successful, the building receives clearance to remain open or to reopen after an outbreak. This assures staff, visitors, and all building occupants, that coronavirus management is effective. Remote monitoring of the indoor environmental conditions IAQ Guard also provides ongoing protection against the virus.
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring
Monitors placed around the building provide the Building Sciences team at Pure Air Control Services with real-time IAQ data. This information includes readings on:
- Temperature & Relative humidity
- Total volatile organic compounds (TVOC)
- Particulate matter
The team responds to any changes in these conditions, so issues get addressed fast. This minimizes risks by keeping IAQ optimal to reduce spread and lessens liability while giving building occupants peace of mind.
Face Masks: Good Enough, But Not Enough
Pure Air Control Services has over 35 years of experience in reducing infection risk and improving indoor air quality. Contact Pure Air Control Services today to find out how we test and track conditions in the facilities of the clients we work with.