Masks

Not a very creative or descriptive title, but I keep seeing people on the Twitterz asking about where you can get good masks, so I thought I would chime in about three masks I’ve found. We’re two years into the pandemic, and too many people are wearing crappy cloth masks (which are still better than no mask at all)–another reason why COVID czar Jeffrey Zients should go away. Despite all of the gloom by various Thinky Thought Leaders and the Substack Bois (more on that tomorrow), KN95/KN94/FFP2 masks and N95 masks do provide good protection, and, as a method of source control, if someone who’s infected is wearing one, they are far less likely to infect other people.

Besides being made by a vetted manufacturer (i.e., it’s actually an N95 material, not junk), the two things I look for in a mask are:

  1. A foam nose bridge. If you wear glasses, this will prevent your glasses from fogging up, but, I find for my face anyway, it also delivers a much tighter seal. Despite my best efforts to seal the mask, without one, I end up breathing over the mask, not through it.
  2. Tight elastic loops. This isn’t a problem with any N95s I’ve used, but too many KN95/KN94/FFP2 masks have ‘loose’ elastic that doesn’t lead to a tight fit–and it doesn’t improve if you knot up the loops or do something else to decrease the size of the loops. The problem is the elastic loops are often too ‘stretchy’ and simply don’t create a tight enough seal.

Anyway, for N95s, I’ve found two brands I like, Protective Health Gear and the Harley N95 Respirator Face Mask/Model L-188.

For KN95s, the one reputable mask I’ve found that meets my two criteria is the White Harley KN95 Respirator Face Mask/Ear Loop.

Hopefully, people will find this useful. It’s what has worked for me anyway.

Note: I have no financial or professional ties to either of these companies.

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3 Responses to Masks

  1. Bern says:

    I’ve recently been dredging the web for the latest mask info too. Clearly the (certified) masks of the types you noted test superior to others as far as stopping Covid-sized particles goes. But the horror stories about counterfeits were pretty daunting (pro tip: do not purchase thru Amazon). Anyway, I’ve found a few believable sources of info:

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-need-to-upgrade-our-face-masks-and-where-to-get-them/#
    was posted in September – has info about mask effectiveness (including links to the ‘Mask Nerd’ test results) and sources of reliable masks.

    The one thing that bothered me about disposables was the waste. That has been addressed by a team from Mass. General Hospital and Harvard Med:

    https://journals.asm.org/doi/epub/10.1128/mBio.00997-20
    is a pretty good description about how to decontaminate a mask in your microwave, and includes details about how effective the 2 to 3 minute decon process is. I anticipate that (if I do not wear them out just from use) I can get 20 or more decon cycles out of each mask.

  2. Disposables! I see them everywhere! They’re the new cigarette butts scattered everywhere!

  3. dr2chase says:

    Re: decontamination and reuse: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7313496/
    Tldr=avoid alcohol

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