all about protective masks

Among all the questions that the French can ask about the coronavirus epidemic, the subject of masks crystallizes many questions. Gentside provides an update on protective masks.

In his announcements this April 28 on the management of deconfinement, Edouard Philippe broached the subject of masks. The Prime Minister has said that there will be enough stocks on May 11, and that in the long term he wants to be able to buy masks for the general public “in all shops”. Traders can also refuse entry to customers without a mask.

On the transport side, wearing a mask will be imperative in metros and buses, but also in hybrid bikes. Wearing a mask will be prohibited for children in kindergarten and elementary school, but compulsory in middle school.

So, what masks to use, where to find them and at what price, what standards are to be taken into account, how to make your mask, how to use it and how to clean it ? Gentside answers your questions.

Usefulness and effectiveness of masks

What are the most effective models, and how to choose your mask ? Cloth masks are certainly the most accessible because you can make them yourself. Like scarves, they have an estimated effectiveness of 30% in comparison with the “real” masks. Indeed they do not have a special filter, but are reusable at will, once washed of course, but must not be worn for more than two hours.

Surgical masks, more “professional”, generally contain 95% of so-called outgoing viruses, but struggle to counter those present in the incoming air: around 30% protection against the virus coming from outside. They are in theory simpler to find in pharmacies for example, than masks stamped FFP (the acronym for Filtering Facepiece Particles), which protect from dust and work effectively against the coronavirus.

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The surgical mask should be discarded after first use, according to medical recommendations.

FFP2 and N95 masks

The number behind FFP corresponds to the level of security offered by the mask: 72% inbound and outbound protection for FFP1, at least 92% for FFP2 and up to 98% for FFP3.

Filter mask, the FFP2 must protect the wearer against the risk of inhalation of infectious agents transmissible by air, and against the risk of transmission of droplets. It consists of a face piece (half mask or full mask) and a filtration device.

Its protection duration varies between 3 and 8 hours. Once removed, it cannot be reused. The same goes for N95 masks, which meet the American classification, while FFP2 is the European counterpart.

What price for masks and where to buy them?

To get a mask, it will always be better to buy a surgical mask in pharmacy or at a retailer with approved fabric masks. Especially for reasons obligation to meet standards (NF EN 14683), because authenticity and conformity will be guaranteed. If however you want to buy them on the Internet, beware of this standard. These masks are logically compliant and available for less than € 20 the pack of 50 on Amazon.

Lot of 50 surgical masks Amazon

So how to get masks ? Edouard Philippe hopes that, in the long term, they will be accessible in “all shops”. Since April 27, following an order from the Ministry of Health, the French can buy masks in one of the 22,000 pharmacies in mainland France and overseas, without the need for a medical prescription.

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Available in pharmacies and some tobacconists

According to the text, “non-sanitary masks manufactured according to an industrial process and meeting the applicable technical specifications“will be offered to a price set between 2 and 5 euros. “But there will be some that will be usable50 times for example and these may cost between 10 and 15 euros, said the president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France.

Masks can be sold in tobacco shops from April 30 at the indicative price of 5 euros. They will be reusable. Each tobacconist must place their order on a platform designed by the Confederation of tobacconists.

To recognize the approved masks, the Ministry of the Economy has passed on the 4 logos which confirm that the mask meets AFNOR standards. The logo can be found on the mask or on its packaging:

4 standard Afnor logos Ministry of Economy

Which cities distribute masks?

Several cities and metropolitan areas have made announcements regarding the distribution of masks, or have even started to distribute them.

  • In Nice, the first masks have been distributed in Nice since Friday, April 24, as announced by Mayor Christian Estrosi.
  • In Toulouse, the 37 municipalities of the metropolis are associated so that each inhabitant can benefit from a fabric mask for deconfinement. Each town hall is responsible for the distribution, for the 800,000 masks ordered.
  • In Lyon, 2 million cloth masks, washable and reusable, will be distributed in May to Lyonnais.
  • In Deauville, the first 5,000 masks were distributed from April 18 and the distribution takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • In Paris, 2 million masks will soon be distributed to Parisians, according to Anne Hidalgo’s announcement on April 7.
  • At Reims, 300,000 masks for the general public are expected
  • In Nantes, 600,000 masks “certified according to AFNOR recommendations” will be distributed to each inhabitant and will each cost a maximum of 4 euros to the municipality
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How to use a mask?

Before and after putting on the mask, whatever it is, wash your hands with a hydroalcoholic gel or with soap and water. Then:

  1. Apply the mask on your face covering the nose and mouth and adjust it. Then ne touch it more and do not touch your face.
  2. Remove the mask from behind (do not touch the front of the mask) If the mask is for single use, throw it away right away. If it is fabric, set it aside to wash it.
  3. Wash your hands with a hydroalcoholic solution or with soap and water.

How to make a protective mask yourself

If you need and cannot get a certified mask, it is possible to understand how to make homemade masks, to sew your own protective masks, whether in paper or fabric.

Be careful, not all are created equal. Gentside has put together very useful and effective tutorials for you, to make your masks yourself at home, using detailed videos.

How to properly clean your mask?

To protect yourself as best as possible from the cloth mask virus, nothing better than soap and water to disinfect it. A machine cycle at 60 ° C in cotton cycle is the most recommended, by the AFNOR standard and scientists.

As for drying, if some people recommend the hair dryer (if you need to save time), don’t try the devil and let it sit in the open air. For other masks, they cannot be washed for reuse.

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