Facial Protective Mask: element of personal protective equipment for professional and everyday use
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shortage of protective equipment both among healthcare personnel and throughout the global community. Their great demand is because they fulfil a fundamental prevention role.
The primary goal of wearing such personal protective equipment is to reduce the transmission of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, by providing a physical barrier between the wearer and the potentially infectious person. Depending on the degree of exposure, the equipment may include various elements such as gloves and facial protection elements: Faceshield masks, goggles, chinstraps, etc., the latter being the most popular and accessible.
To meet the vast global demand, a face shield (also called a protective mask, face liner, sanitary barrier, face shield, etc.) has been designed, which can be manufactured in a relatively short time using 3D printing, injection, die-cutting, laser cutting, among others.
It is a solution for anyone who wants to increase their protection while interacting with other people and can be used by personnel in hospitals, pharmacies, supermarkets, security forces and police, factories and workshops, and individual users in everyday life. It is an element recommended by the World Health Organization, and in many countries, its use outdoors is mandatory, and it may be a matter of time before this rule is applied worldwide.
Does covering the face guarantee total protection against COVID-19?
Scientific studies show that many people with coronavirus lack symptoms, and even those who eventually develop them can transmit the virus to others before showing any signs. In other words, that means that the virus can spread between people who interact at a close distance, for example, by talking, coughing or sneezing, even if those people have no symptoms.
Expert opinion, custom, practice and different research on the SARS epidemic indicate that face masks, as an additional physical barrier, was the most effective intervention to reduce the spread of the virus. They protect healthcare personnel against direct contact with virus particles that are spread by coughing or sneezing. Therefore, it is recommended for all those who have direct contact with the sick to use them.
The shortage of this equipment could make it difficult to flatten the curve for new cases if medical personnel are infected. That is why the protectors already available in the market should be prioritized for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.
On the other hand, face shields as personal protective equipment devices are recommended not only to healthcare workers, dentists/dentists and veterinarians but also to police, firefighters, industrial workers, commercial employees and individuals—individual in everyday life. In summary, in times of pandemic, anyone can use it to protect the facial area (especially the eyes, nose and mouth) to prevent exposure and transmission of the virus.
What to consider when choosing to buy a face shield mask?
Features of face shields:
Components include a visor, clear screen, and a suspension system. The viscera are generally made of lightweight plastic and the screens in a transparent material such as acetate or polyethene. There are various designs on the market, including adjustable and non-adjustable models, which fully or partially surround the face.
Some models incorporate an eyebrow cap that provides additional splash protection in the forehead region and allows a greater distance from the visor to the face that is better suited to the use of other equipment such as glasses. As for the screens, several manufacturers offer removable and easily interchangeable screens. Someplace elements of soft material, e.g. a sponge, which while providing additional comfort on the forehead,
Unlike chinstraps or masks, face masks provide more comfort, facilitate breathing, and allow better communication and speech.
Other benefits include:
- Protect a more significant portion of the face, fully cover the sides and length of the face
- Less retained dermal facial heat, therefore minor irritation
- Less fogging than glasses
- Less claustrophobic
- No fit testing required
- Easy to disinfect (if they do not have textile elements or parts)
- Users do not need to be shaved
- Easy to put on and take off
- Relatively inexpensive
- It can be used with other face/eye protection
- They do not prevent non-verbal facial communication
- Protects against self-inoculation (touching the face) over a wider facial area
- Extends the life of a chinstrap when worn simultaneously
- Provides good visibility
- Reusable (made of material that can be cleaned and disinfected) or disposable
How to disinfect the protective face mask?
For the effective operation of face shields, they must be changed or sterilized after each contact with a new patient or after the working day. In daily or commercial use, the masks must be carefully disinfected (alcohol diluted to 70% is recommended) or simply soap and water.
What to consider when choosing a face shield?
The mask mustn’t have porosities since they are the places where bacteria, viruses and other microbes accumulate, which is why the products manufactured with the injection method are a better sanitary barrier than those manufactured with the 3D process.
Conveniently, the transparent screen is interchangeable. On the one hand, change it when necessary ensures the best protection against microbes. On the other hand, it reduces the cost of buying a new mask.
Screen material: there are several materials within which PET (polypropylene) ensures more excellent resistance, durability and clarity of sight compared.
The elastic band to adjust the contour of the head can be a textile or rubber element; the latter can be disinfected, while the use of textile elements can even increase the risk of carrying microbes.
In summary, it is essential to emphasize that social distancing and frequent hand washing remains the most important thing to stop the spread of the virus. Protective face masks increase protection and prevent asymptomatic people from infecting when working, shopping, or riding public transportation.