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Like Moths to Cloth: Why Are We Swarming Toward Unsafe Masks?

Like Moths to Cloth: Why Are We Swarming Toward Unsafe Masks?

After nearly two years navigating a global pandemic, you’d imagine we’d have essential means of protection figured out. But we don’t. One of the optimal and easily used forms of protection against both viral infection and other airborne pathogens and pollutants like dust, wildfire smoke, spores, etc., masking, is now causing even more confusion. Those that have consistently been drawn to cloth or single-use, disposable face masks, are now being encouraged to upgrade to an N95 or KN95 mask for improved protection. It’s true that any means of protection is better than none. However, not all masks are created equal, and the optimal way to protect yourself is by wearing a respirator mask.

According to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), if two people aren’t wearing masks and one of them is infected, it will only take 15 minutes for the infection to spread. If one of those people is wearing a cloth mask, the window only increases by a mere 5 minutes. If both people are wearing cloth masks, the window is increased again by 7 minutes. With cloth masks, at best, you have 27 minutes before you’re openly inviting coronavirus into your system. For those who opt for surgical masks rather than cloth, the data isn’t much improved, indicating one hour of safety should both people be wearing surgical masks.
Why Cloth Masks Might Not Be Enough as Omicron Spreads
Source:  Wall Street Journal "Why Cloth Masks Might Not Be Enough as Omicron Spreads"

When masks are tightly sealed on the face, as is the case with our OCTO Respirator Mask (ORM), only the smallest percentage of particulates can enter your respiratory system. N95 masks offer a similar level of protection to ORM, which the ACGIH found can provide up to 25 hours of protection. The difference is undeniable. When it comes to N95 masks, however, a new hazard has emerged.

N95 and KN95: Buyer Beware

At the start of the pandemic, N95 masks were in short supply, to the point where different organizations were confining inventory for healthcare and frontline workers only. Then, guidance and recommendations encouraged the purchase of N95 or KN95 level masks. With fewer and fewer options available through brick-and-mortar locations, consumers are left to fend for themselves, shopping amid a sea of face masks online. Unfortunately, opportunists and bad actors, predominantly from overseas, have started to flood the online universe with “fake” N95 and KN95 options (meaning masks that look like protective masks but in truth offer no protection whatsoever). Fake face masks have saturated the market, creating unnecessary challenges for consumers desperate to get protection, but left aimless and with limited support. Discerning the real from counterfeit (or fake) products is not as simple as one may expect.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the make, model, and filtration efficacy of tested N95 and KN95 masks, leaving customers to check and investigate on their own. This added layer only broadens the stress, especially at a time when it is already a challenge to get people to wear a face mask and further, to graduate away from disposable or cloth face masks towards a functional respirator mask.

In a sea of cloth and counterfeit, OCTO Safety Devices is proud to offer a high-quality, reusable, easily sterilizable and self-contained (no replacement filters or parts) elastomeric respirator mask.

It’s time to push back against the narrative that “Any mask is better than no mask.” Although it is true, this thinking is no longer effective. This time may be a blip against a backdrop of our entire life, however COVID is just the most recent reason humans need respiratory protection. Given epidemiological history, there will be future viruses to come. And respiratory protection is not only needed for viruses and pathogens, but to protect against polluted environments, dusty construction work, wildfire smoke, mold, etc, etc. Isn’t it better to add a safety tool to your arsenal that provides a blanket of protection now as well as in the future?

Learn more about the OCTO Respirator Mask (ORM), efficacy results, and how to get yours through our website as well as on Amazon.