Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people around the world to wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus. One of the masks recommended by experts is the N95 mask. However, the higher price and its ‘disposable’ nature make many people hesitate and choose ordinary masks. This then raises the question of how long can N95 protect yourself and others from the risk of being exposed to Covid-19?
“I wore an N95 mask for a week,” said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, as quoted by CNN International.
According to him, the materials and filtration capabilities of N95 masks will not degrade, unless you rub them or punch holes in them.
“Some people say around 40 hours, I think that’s okay. You have to be in really polluted air for a few days before the N95 loses its ability to filter out particulate matter. So you can really wear it for a long time, ” he said.
However, if the mask becomes damp, looks dirty, bent, wrinkled, or damaged — including from wearing makeup — you will need to replace it as these conditions can reduce the effectiveness of the mask.
The reason N95s are designated as disposable masks is because they are categorized as medical masks, said Erin Bromage, professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In medical regulations, health workers change masks more often to avoid contamination.
Why are N95 masks recommended by experts?
Compared to cloth masks, properly fitted N95 masks are more effective at preventing small particles from entering the nose or mouth thanks to certain materials — such as polypropylene fibers. Polypropylene acts as a mechanical and electrostatic barrier to air sharing which is the main cause of coronavirus infection.
According to Marr, N95 masks themselves are not made for children. For children who are a bit older, aged over 10 years, can use the N95 which is small in size.
“If you see the N95 being marketed for kids, that should be a red flag,” Marr added.