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Of flowers, colors, with rhinestones and even a chain to wear hanging as if they were close-up glasses. The "mask fever" invades us and among so many offers it is worth stopping for a second to ask yourself: what are masks for? Were they to protect us or are they the new spring-summer 2020 fashion accessory?

From DIY to homologation

A couple of months ago, when getting a surgical mask was more difficult than cutting an octopus's nails, I myself shared from these pages in the article: Homemade masks, yes or no? tutorials proposed by the American and European health authorities on how to make one with your own hands. Luckily, pharmacies have been well-stocked for a while now and it is possible to get surgical masks in most of them, also with a fixed price of 0.96 euros. Now, beyond the FFP2 (for health workers, people in contact with positives, etc.) and the surgical ones (for patients), from the Government another category has been well defined that may be useful for people who are healthy in principle. . We talk about hygienic ones, although I call them walking masks because they can be a good option for walking, shopping or doing any type of activity in which we foreseeably meet the non-negotiable objective of keeping the safety distance.

Types of hygienic

Three categories are established depending on the requirements they meet. To be able to identify them, you have to look very carefully at the tracks on the label.

Type 1. The label will specify that they comply with the UNE 0064 and UNE 0065 regulations: it means that they are to be used and thrown away and that they are reusable, that is, they can be washed following the manufacturer's instructions. This marking implies that both its filtering capacity (greater than 90%) and its breathability (less than 60 Pa / cm2) have been verified in the mask.

Type 2. Other standards and specifications that the company itself is responsible for verifying but without complying with the UNE0065 standard may be mentioned on the label. If the person who is going to buy them does not have some knowledge about the regulations of masks (normal), their labeling is usually difficult to decipher. Unfortunately, in some cases this category is being a "sink" for new manufacturers emerging from under the stones, claiming properties they cannot prove.

Type 3. They are masks without specifications. I affectionately call them Grandma's masks. They are, for example, those that are sewn at home with sheet or T-shirt fabrics and, logically, have not been subjected to any tests. Some include pockets for coffee filters, vacuum cleaners, or kitchen towels. As I was saying, these masks made sense when there was nothing else to literally put in our mouths, but now there are already approved alternatives. Considering that we are talking about health and that type 1 masks are affordable, is it worth the risk?

TRUE OR FALSE: how much do you know about hygienic masks?

Are there cloth masks with FFP2 fabric?

FALSE. Despite the fact that many manufacturers sell their masks using the well-known «FFP2 fabric» as a claim, it does not exist as such. This category implies that the masks have been manufactured meeting a series of requirements that are not only related to the type of tissue but also to the facial adjustment, the machinery with which they have been manufactured, etc. Whoever claims that their masks have FFP2 tissue either does not know what they are saying or is directly lying.

Can we make homemade face masks that are "reliable"?

TRUE. Now, to make them you have to use the materials recommended in the guide for the manufacture of masks and protective clothing of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. And these materials can be hard to come by at retail textile stores today. In addition to using this type of tissue, it is important that "homemade" masks follow the shape pattern of surgical masks. Important! One with a vertical seam in the middle of the mouth may not meet the established filtration parameters.

Can "flower" masks comply with the UNE0065 standard?

TRUE. As in the previous case, they can comply but only if they are made with the materials specified by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. In addition, these materials must have been tested once the stamping has been printed on them to confirm that they still comply with the regulations. In other words, masks that are printed, colored, stamped and even perforated to add tacks without carrying out any subsequent tests on filtration and breathability, cannot guarantee their function as UNE0065.

Is it better to choose them with antiviral fabric, with silver threads, with water-repellent fabric or that "resist many washes"?

FALSE. If it were differentially better to include all these parameters they would have been required in the UNE0065 standard. The main thing is that it meets the filtration and breathability criteria already described and that it has a specific form. The rest are fireworks that are not going to make a difference. Regarding the number of washes, if a manufacturer claims that they resist 150 washes, they must demonstrate that they do so by maintaining filtration and breathability, not just that it does not break.

Adopt new habits:

Washable hygienic masks are proposed as a more economical and sustainable option as well as effective if they know how to use them properly. A good option for families who cannot afford the cost of 2-3 euros per person per day (surgical procedures are to be used and thrown away every four hours).

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