Quality of Masks and why do they Matter?

There are a ton of masks manufacturers out there however none of them are the made the same. Here are some areas to check for quality when using a Surgical Mask / N95 Mask. As well as some quick tests you can do; to make sure that you get the right quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the market today. To keep your masks sanitary, please do these tests on masks that you will not be using yourself. Here are some reasons why you need to know the quality of masks and why do they really matter?

Sealing Point Between the Mask and the Strap

An important point that often fails for cheaper masks is the sealing point.  Many times in bad quality masks the sealing point does not hold up to sweat or tension. To test this, you might want to tug on your mask straps. The straps should be able to stretch from one end of the mask to the other without breaking. Use a droplet of water on the point where the strap and the mask; and do the stretch test again to see if the point holds up or breaks.

The metal nose wire on the respirators should not be easily removed or pulled off. Lightly pry against the metal parts to make sure that the parts do not fall off.

Material Quality

Surgical masks are meant to stop the spread of water droplets and should be resilient to water without leaking. To test this; you can place the masks with the inner side facing up over a dripping tap to catch water. If the mask’s material is good you will find that the water would not leak through; the mask should be able to hold the water.

You can also try blowing a lighted flame with a mask on to test the filter of the mask. If the mask’s filter is made of good quality; you will find that it’s harder to blow through the mask. And that the flame will not be as easily extinguished vs. blowing without a mask.

Sturdy Structure for masks

Another test you could do for the N95/KN95; is to open up the folding masks and place an empty file on the top of it. The masks should be able to hold the weight of the file; as the seal on the mask and the weight on it, should be distributed evenly across the base of the mask. A good quality mask will be able to hold its shape without collapsing.

Also, be sure to store your masks in their packaging and keep it in a cool dry place. This is so that the materials do not degrade; and that you will have a good quality mask that you can rely on.

Additional content to consider:

  • Static Electricity test on Melt Blown Fabric
  • Fire test on Melt Blown Fabric
  • Visual test on Melt Blown Fabric

Wearing the Appropriate Masks Outdoors

Understanding your risk level and exposure outdoors and in public places is important when choosing which mask you need to take out with you. Here are the few things that you will need to remember. Firstly, how high is your risk in catching an infection and secondly, how far are you travelling from home?

1 Travelling short distances in safe environments.
Should you decide to take a walk to the garden to water your plants a simple cloth mask should allow you to be relatively safe. Cloth masks or surgical masks are also great in well ventilated indoor spaces where you are sure that the risk is lower such as your workplace.

2. Heading to work via public transport or attending a public gathering.

When traveling in crowded areas it’s important that you wear a surgical mask or a respirator. Working in a crowded setting where there is no separation it is important to be safe and wearing a cloth mask is not advisable.

3. Visiting a hospital for a checkup?
If you are visiting a hospital or if your house is near the vicinity of a clinic. You may want to consider carrying an n95/kn95 or a medical-grade respirator with you. If you are involved in administering tests or providing care to someone who is sick please make sure that you have the appropriate mask with you.

Remember to always carry a Ziplock bag so that you can temporarily place your mask and carry it around with you while you are having your meals in public places like canteens or even food courts.

Let us know if there are any tests or questions on the Quality of Masks and why do they Matter to you? Contact PEPCO directly if you are looking for reliable mask supplies and we will be glad to assist.   

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