As we enter our third national lockdown many will be making changes to their day to day lives as people are asked to stay at home wherever possible. The decision from the government follows a rapid rise in infections due to the new variant of COVID-19, which our scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible.

Face Masks have been a mandatory requirement for a while now, but as the rules continue to change in response to the Pandemic, for many, it has become more and more important to understand the protection they are actually receiving from their choice in mask.

So, here is a little guide to the mask types available to you, and the protection they offer.

 

Disposable Face Masks

Disposable Paper Face Masks are fluid resistant and provide some protection from larger respiratory droplets such as Coughs or Sneezes. They are predominantly to help prevent the wearer from spreading infectious droplets to other people, rather than for your own protection.

One benefit of Disposable Paper Face Masks is that they are affordable and convenient. However, they’re not always comfortable, with elastic straps that go over your ears making them loose-fitting.

 

Cloth Face Masks

With many people making or selling their own, Cloth face masks have become a bit of a trend since the start of the pandemic and the introduction of compulsory mask-wearing. Compared with disposable paper face masks they are often soft and breathable, however, they require more hands-on care to stay protected as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that cloth masks are washed after every use.

 

What is BFE?

Bacterial Filtration Efficiency, or BFE, is a measurement of resistance to penetration of Bacteria. Results are reported as the percentage efficiency of the fabric to resist Bacterial Penetration. The higher the number the better the protection, for example, medical and surgical masks have a BFE of >95% meaning they block >95% of droplets they are exposed to.

 

What is PFE?

Particulate Filtration Efficiency, or PFE, measures how well a face mask filters out the smallest of particles, such as dust, pollution and even viruses. The higher the PFE percentage the better the face mask will protect you from breathing in harmful particles.

Paper face masks and cloth face coverings do not form a seal around your nose and mouth so have a very low PFE rating, as the air you are breathing in is able to enter around the sides of the mask. It’s also important to remember that the number and quality of layers in a face mask can impact the BFE and PFE rating, and its effectiveness.

 

Impact on the Environment of your Mask

The Coronavirus Pandemic, and the high demand for face masks and other PPE, is sadly responsible for a huge increase in plastic pollution. This additional plastic waste is already threatening marine life. If we continue to use one disposable face mask per day, as is recommended, this could result in 129 Billion Face Masks being added to our waste every month! Put into context, we are currency using enough Disposable Face Masks to cover the whole of London in under two days, according to Environment Journal. 

 

A Safe & Environmentally Friendly Option

Offering the highest filtration available on the Consumer Market, Breathe Happy is the World’s First Consumer Reusable Face Mask.

Breathe Happy has a PFE of >98%. Fitting comfortably to the contours of your face, it also reduces the risk of contamination caused by constantly touching and re-adjusting ill-fitting disposable face masks, and, if you wear glasses, it won’t cause your lenses to fog up.

Each Breathe Happy mask comes with five replaceable filters, enough for 5 weeks of daily wear. This makes them a more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective option – plus our filters can be delivered straight to your door with a subscription.

Whatever your preference, your mask will only be effective if you wear it correctly, and also follow social distancing and handwashing advice.