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#150436 - 09/30/08 01:47 AM Re: face mask pattern [Re: Tirec]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Below is an article from the healthcare industry http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FSL/is_1_74/ai_76653447
on cloth face masks, for your information. Personally, I would think that something cloth would be better than nothing, but...


Question: Some people ore starting to wear homemade cloth masks in the OR. The same masks are worn all day. Is this acceptable? What argument can be made against this practice?

Answer: Homemade cloth masks are unacceptable. Although early masks were made of muslin or linen, they only redirected exhaled air away from the surgical wound. Cloth surgical masks were replaced in the early 1960s with synthetic materials that also provide bacterial filtration.(3)

Wearing masks is recommended for two reasons. First, they contain and filter microorganism droplets that are expelled from the mouth and nasopharynx during talking, sneezing, and coughing. Second, they protect the wearer from exposure to infectious materials and other respiratory hazards, such as electrosurgical and laser smoke.(4) Fluid-resistant surgical masks are considered personal protective equipment (PPE), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires health care workers exposed to blood and other body fluids to wear them. To be considered appropriate, PPE must

not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through
to or reach the employee's work clothes, street clothes, undergarments,
skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use
and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be

Surgical masks should filter at least 0.3 [Mu] of bacteria for regular use and 0.1 [Mu] for laser use, or they should provide 90% to 95% bacterial filtration efficiency.(6) Masks must be changed between uses and whenever they become moist. Masks should not be reused throughout the day or saved by hanging them around the neck or tucking them into a pocket for future use.(7) The filter portion of the mask harbors bacteria collected from the nasopharyngeal airway, and care must be taken when removing the mask to avoid contamination of the hands.

It is extremely unlikely that an individual would have an adequate supply of freshly laundered--not home laundered--reusable masks to be able to change as frequently as recommended. Although there may be reusable materials that could meet fluid resistance and filtration criteria, it is extremely unlikely that a suitable reusable cloth material could be found, tested by an individual according to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, and manufactured on a home sewing machine according to industry specifications. Surgical masks are an FDA class II medical device that require special controls and are subject to premarket notification procedures (ie, 510k guidelines).(8)

#150446 - 09/30/08 03:14 AM Re: face mask pattern [Re: Susan]
Tirec Offline

Registered: 08/24/07
Posts: 52
Loc: Rocky Mountain West
Thank you, Susan. I wouldn't intend to use this for surgical situations. Looking for something reusable to add a degree of protection for the wearer from the contagious, and to reduce the spread of disease by the contagious.

I found a few more interesting links.
one suggestion is to use anti-microbial t-shirt fabric, such as Microban.

Now this is interesting from the CDC

Mask: Masks protect the health care worker's face from contact with blood or droplets of infectious body fluids. Use masks that cover the mouth and nose. Use a HEPA-filter or other biosafety mask, a surgical mask, or a cotton mask made locally.

HEPA-filter or biosafety mask:A HEPA-filter mask filters the air to prevent breathing in small particles and harmful microorganisms. It provides protection from airborne transmission of microorganisms.

A HEPA-filter or biosafety mask is lightweight and easy to use. It can be reused by the same health care worker as long as it continues to fit comfortably and the mask does not become contaminated, crushed, or splattered with body fluids.

Do not touch the mask after it has been put on. The mask may become contaminated once it is touched. To avoid the necessity for touching the mask, make sure it fits comfortably before entering the patient's room.

When handling a reused mask, hold it by the strings. Be careful that the outside surface does not touch the health care worker's face.

Surgical mask:
If HEPA-filter or
other biosafety masks are not available, use surgical masks. Surgical masks will not filter out small particles, but they will protect the health care worker from droplets or splashing of body fluids.

A surgical mask can be reused by the same health care worker as long as it is not contaminated and not obviously dirty and torn.

Cotton mask: If surgical masks are not available, use cotton masks made from four or five layers of cotton cloth sewn together.

Use a different colour for each side of the mask. This will help health care workers quickly identify which side should be worn inside.

The mask should have ties that are long enough to reach behind the head.

Cotton masks will not provide protection from breathing in particles, but they will provide protection against splashes and other droplet contact with infectious body fluids. A cotton mask can be reused by the same health care worker as long as it is not contaminated and not obviously dirty and torn.

#150447 - 09/30/08 03:21 AM Re: face mask pattern [Re: Tirec]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Tirec
I think I'll try adding a wire of band of some type to the top of the pad to get a better fit over the bridge of the nose...

I wouldn't try too hard. Any homemade mask is not going to be very good at filtration. Making the edges as tight as possible will probably have negligible benefit.

Most likely, a pandemic disease will be transmitted in the usual person-to-person method or by droplet spray due to coughing/sneezing. In either case, you don't need a super high filtration to provide some benefit. As long as it helps keep you from touching your mouth/nose with contaminated hands or if it can trap those "big" droplets from sneezes/coughs, a homemade mask can help.

But, there are still likely going to be a small percentage of cases where the virus was truly aerosolized and airborne, in which case, no homemade mask will be efficient enough to trap such tiny particles. And if the next pandemic illness is primarily airborne, no homemade mask will protect a healthy person very well because the virus will pass through the fabric.

Of course, I'm talking about Joe Average here regarding the use of homemade masks. I'm NOT talking about the healthcare setting, where there are lots of protocols and PPE requirements already spelled out, plus a much higher exposure to acutely sick patients than out in the general population.

#150456 - 09/30/08 07:48 AM Re: face mask pattern [Re: Arney]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Here is a photo of a typical mask: http://www.lakewoodconferences.com/catal...isposables.html

You'll notice that there are two pleats on each side. They are about 6.75" square (with hems -- they probably start out about 7.75" square), and end up being about 6.75" x 3.5" with the pleats.

A tightly-woven plain cotton muslin would probably do, but remember to pre-shrink the fabric in a hot soapy wash before you cut the pieces to size. Muslin usually comes in two basic colors, beige and white; if you made each mask of at least two layers, making the inside (to the face) white would clearly designate which is which.

The ties could be just lengths of bias tape, stitched along the open edge, made long enough so you can tie a bow.


#150468 - 09/30/08 01:22 PM Re: face mask pattern [Re: Susan]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
I can think of one benefit that a mask, ANY mask, would have in a pandemic situation: It would help remind you not to touch your mouth and nose with your hands. Add a pair of glasses (safety, prescription or sun) and you've improved your chances significantly.
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

#150470 - 09/30/08 01:24 PM Re: face mask pattern [Re: thseng]
Stu Offline
I am not a P.P.o.W.
Old Hand

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1058
Loc: Finger Lakes of NY State
Originally Posted By: thseng
I can think of one benefit that a mask, ANY mask, would have in a pandemic situation: It would help remind you not to touch your mouth and nose with your hands. Add a pair of glasses (safety, prescription or sun) and you've improved your chances significantly.

I agree with you on that one.
Our most important survival tool is our brain, and for many, that tool is way underused! SBRaider
Head Cat Herder

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