Lock down, zoom meetings, being in our "bubble"... These are among the new terms and adjustments we've all had to make over this epic year - with face masks being another 'new normal'.
With an influx of demand and a variety of options to choose from, how do you know what's best for your needs?
Being ever so slightly biased towards natural materials, we check out how Merino wool masks stack up in the COVID-19 world.
A merino face mask used for non-medical purposes would offer you all the regular goodness of wool, such as:
Moisture-wicking from the skin
Super soft and comfortable
Sustainable, regenerative fibre
We know that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
“I think there’s enough evidence to say that the best benefit is for people who have COVID-19 to protect them from giving COVID-19 to other people, but you’re still going to get a benefit from wearing a mask if you don’t have COVID-19,” said by infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD, in this University of California, San Francisco article.
Cloth masks aren't suitable as PPE for those working in close contact with the virus or high-risk persons. This American paper looks at the effectiveness of cloth masks and their ability to limit droplets emitted by the wearer:
"When someone is breathing, speaking, or coughing, only a tiny amount of what is coming out of their mouths is already in aerosol form. Nearly all of what is being emitted is droplets. Many of these droplets will then evaporate and turn into aerosolized particles that are 3 to 5-fold smaller. The point of wearing a mask as source control is largely to stop this process from occurring, since big droplets dehydrate to smaller aerosol particles that can float for longer in air."
The paper also states that cloth masks "have not been shown to increase the risk of infection in people using them compared to not wearing any mask".
The best mask might be one you'll actually wear.
This is where the comfort, breathability and the softness of merino against your face can play a part. Wearing a mask is about reducing risk, rather than absolute prevention.
This blog post is not medical advice or a scientific study but intended as an informational aid and is not a substitute for specific advice. Please continue to follow the instructions of your local health authorities.