Over the course of COVID-19’s global spread, we’ve heard lots about PPE for medical staff and how much it can protect them from both catching and spreading the illness. And whilst here in the UK wearing a mask isn’t an enforced rule when in public, it is scientifically proven that wearing one significantly reduces the spread of the coronavirus.
The fast-fashion brands who are seeking to profit from these masks will of course not explicitly state that their masks are dangerous, just that they are ‘not a medical device or personal protective equipment’ and that the company ‘makes no claims about the medical benefits of using this product’ (as stated by ASOS and Pretty Little Thing). These legal statements protect them from liability whilst not explicitly stating that their masks could be a health risk.
These masks may seem like the supply to our demand, but this supply may not be protecting you, with most of these fast fashion masks being ill-fitting, polyester-made, single-layer nightmares. And though some of the trendy masks on the fashion market can be made to fulfil the scientific recommendations, even the more expensive brands like Adidas are producing masks that are made from polyester, even if their masks are double-layered.
Effective masks need to be multiple layers - ideally made from 2 layers of cotton with 2 layers of chiffon or silk in between. This combination was found to 90% of particles larger than 300 nanometers.
Masks must also be fitted because if masks aren’t properly fitted and leave gaps for leakage, their effectiveness in filtration is decreased over 60%.
Protective masks can give you a sense of security when leaving your home during the pandemic, but to wear one that isn’t effective can give you a false sense of security that not only endangers you but also those around you. Buying masks that fulfil the safety requirements whilst also practising other social distancing and sanitation measures can only make you and others safer during this time.
All scientific data from the American Chemical Society.