Monday , September 20 2021

Index – Homemade – Mask for everyone! But what?

On the Index, we recently published a study examining how disciplined Europeans, including Hungarians, comply with health rules imposed by the coronavirus epidemic. In terms of willingness to wear a mask, we are doing well compared to the European average, but when we walk the streets or travel by public transport, there are still countless people who wear masks incorrectly or put on the wrong mask.

Therefore, we will now try to summarize once again all the relevant information related to the masks and contribute to the best possible chances of survival in the current period without infection. As we would like to provide professional, complete answers to the questions that arose, we sought and received information from the “mask” specialists of the National Institute of Pharmacy and Food Health (OGYÉI) and the National Center for Public Health.

As millions of studies have shown, the essence of the mask is to minimize the release of droplets (aerosols) exhaled by the infected into the air, their entry into the airways. If we are healthy, covering our mouth and nose will protect us from the aerosols we exhale, if we are infected, we will protect others with it. During breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, the drops scatter with varying intensity, but if we have a mask on it, it lands on its surface, not on the skin, face, mucous membranes of others.

The mask also protects us from dirt on the face during involuntary movements, and then from there into the eyes, mouth and nose. (Remember that wearing a mask is only part of the defense: you need to be careful to keep your distance and wash your hands often!)

A protective mask, which can be a medical device, personal protective device or home mask, is used properly if it completely covers the nose, mouth and chin, for which the design should be checked.


Make sure it fits snugly on your face, reducing suction. We must wash our hands thoroughly with soap before and after applying them. If the mask is wet, it must be replaced, as its filtration will deteriorate sharply. Whether we get a rubber band or a lace mask, we need to wear it so that we do not have to constantly manage it, because in this way more dirt can appear on the surface of our hands and “saturate”.

Respiratory protection devices can be divided into 3 categories based on what material they are made of, what regulations apply to them and what their purpose is. They exist on the basis of these

  • Medical devices,
  • personal protective equipment for respiratory protection,
  • other mouth masks.

Efficiency can vary from category to category and within categories.

Surgical or medical mask

The surgical masks of the first category are made for professional medical use, ie. for hospital workers, for example, but because of their design they do not provide complete protection against pathogenic microorganisms and other contaminants because the surface of the mask fits loosely on the face. Their level of protection may vary. However, there are many carried on the street, which has several problems.

Due to their permeability, these masks provide protection for 2.5-3 hours, after which they need to be replaced so that they can be worn only for a short time.

On the other hand, if passers-by carry this and wear it out two or three a day, the supply will run out fast enough and no one will be left to fight for the lives of our grandparents on the operating table or in the intensive care unit.


The second category includes personal protective equipment for respiratory protection. These were originally developed for the purpose of occupational safety, ie to protect a person with very high efficiency from contaminants entering the body by inhalation, for example on a construction site, in a vehicle repair shop. Their type limits the scope of available protection.

They can be divided into two groups:

  • for filter type respirators
  • and insulating respirators.

Filter-type respirators filter pollutants from the inhaled air and reduce contamination below permissible levels. Semi-filtered masks for filtered particles that work on this principle are marked with FFP (Filtering Facepiece Particulare), 1-2-3 based on their performance. they can be class (FFP1, FFP2, FFP3), we see a lot on the street. Insulating respirators provide air from an external source, providing complete protection when used as intended.

But it is important to know that respirators with valves filter almost 100 percent of the incoming air, so they protect their carrier, the exhaled air is not filtered, so if worn by a sick or suspect, they will not protect others from infection. .

Most of the popular FFP masks in Hungary can not be reused or washed. Because if they were washed at high temperatures or even just evaporated to remove potential viruses, they would be destroyed. However, there may be exceptions to these types, so it is always a good idea to read their instructions carefully before using them. Consider also environmental aspects: as a consumer, it is not certain that we should develop a market for plastic masks if we can choose a product made from a less polluting material with a similar filtration capacity.

Other masks

For other masks, ie. masks that are not classified in the two regulatory categories above (eg homemade, stitched masks), the effectiveness is determined by the filtration properties and the air permeability (ie respiration) of the raw material. The effectiveness of screening depends

  • weaving tension,
  • from the diameter of the thread,
  • and, in the case of nonwovens, from the production process.

For making masks, it is recommended to choose inelastic (flexible) material, because during use the material stretches, which increases the size of the pores, which reduces the efficiency of filtration. Flexible materials are also sensitive to high temperatures and therefore cannot be washed effectively.

In addition to the choice of material, the amount of layers is also important. Depending on the type of material, it is recommended to wear a mask with a minimum of 3 layers. Studies have shown that masks made of fabric or clothing (for example, nylon or polyester) provide 2 to 5 times more filtration efficiency in two coats than in one coat. For masks made of cotton, it is recommended to buy 4 coats. Porous materials (for example, gauze) do not provide adequate filtration even in several layers.

Multi-layer masks made of clothing are most suitable for everyday use, because they have appropriate filtering properties, are washable and can be used for months.

What about the scarf?

With the onset of winter, many people not only address the warmth of the neck with a scarf, but also see it as a mask. This is a mistake because neck scarves are not designed to cover the face and nose or have any filtering properties. Their filtering also depends on their material, for example, knitted scarves contain visible pores (holes) when wrapped in several layers, which makes breathing difficult. Their effectiveness is further weakened by the fact that, due to the exhaled steam, their material quickly moistens, which in turn can become an ideal microenvironment for other infectious agents in a short time.

Should I throw it away, wash it, iron it?

An international symbol for masks indicates that once used, it is circled 2 crossed out, we must look for this symbol.

Surgical masks (medical masks) are disposable devices because they are not suitable for disinfection or cleaning, for example with heat or chemicals / disinfectants, due to the properties of their material. Most FFP masks must also be disposed of after use, they cannot be washed off, but the instructions for use decide here.

Masks made of fabric are recommended to be stored in a closed bag after use until washed. They can be washed in a washing machine, to destroy and inactivate microorganisms at 90-95 degrees or 60-75 degrees, in the latter case in combination with disinfectant detergent, it is possible to wash by hand in a disinfectant solution for at least 10 minutes. , ironing is possible and can be used for months until their material is tired.

What are we looking for on the label?

Documentation of various labels and masks can be helpful when purchasing legally sold medical or personal respirators. This paragraph will be a bit boring at the moment, but once everyone chews it or tags the article so they can pick it up when they buy.

If, despite the above, the surgical mask (non-sterile) is selected, ask for the CE marking and the manufacturer ‘s declaration of conformity issued in accordance with EüM Regulation 93/42 / EEC or 4/2009 (III.17). In the case of sterile masks, make sure that the CE mark and the four-digit identification number of the certification body are present, e.g. CE3271 and the certificate issued in accordance with 93/42 / EEC. In the case of personal protective equipment and respirators, the CE marking and the four-digit identification number of the certification body and the certificate issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) no. 2016/425.

Every legally sold mask should be here for the product manufacturer, if you do not find it, do not buy it!


As demand for it spread around the world, masks began to be forged. Customs and investigative authorities sent warnings to OGYÉI in 122 cases, and the institute initiated market surveillance proceedings in 24 cases. In 18 cases, the placement of the given product was interrupted or the product was withdrawn from the market. In some cases, OGYÉI either did not act or did not act because it found that the product complied with EU harmonization legislation. In the case of protective masks, the procedures were carried out by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.

(Cover image: ppi / Index)

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