7 Ways to Tell if Your Mask Sucks!

photo of mask being burned

7 Simple Tests to Find Out if Your Mask is a Massive Winner or A Major Dud...

With all the disposable masks available out there, it becomes difficult to figure out which ones are actually doing their job and which ones are a major fail. Read on for 7 easy ways to tell if you’ve got a superior mask or if it’s time for a much-needed upgrade.

#1: Visually Inspect the Mask

This one may be a no-brainer, but visually inspect the mask to see how well it is constructed. If the weld lines are off, the mask will not hold up very long once you have it on. Similarly, the ear loops or nose bridge will start to detach easily if the mask is poorly constructed. Visually you will also be able to tell if the mask looks thin and is made of poor material. Masks that have a more rough texture can also be a sign of poor materials that are not created with care and comfort in mind.  For medical grade masks, which offer the best protection, don’t forget to check the box packaging and ensure it clearly marks the following:

  • The ASTM level (level 3 is the highest quality)
  • The number of layers
  • The manufacturing and expiration date (yes, medical masks have an expiration date!)
  • ASTM test standards
Note, if the packaging does not mention ASTM level 1, 2, or 3, the masks are typically untested and are sub-level 1 or possible only level 1.

#2: Cut Open the Mask and Check the Layers

It is a great idea to confirm that your mask has the number of layers it advertises. Generally, it is better to have 4 layers rather than just 3 layers. It is not uncommon for masks to be advertised as 4-ply when in fact they are only 3-ply. Using scissors, carefully cut that bad boy up and get to counting. One of the inside layers should be a more opaque, typically white layer that is made from melt-blown fabrics. This layer is very important as it is pivotal in the filtration efficiency of the mask.

#3: Light Blocking Test

A simple way to compare masks to see which one is thinner is to put it up to a light source. A more high quality mask will block more of the light, whereas a low quality mask with thinner layers will allow more light through. 

#4: Electrostatic Charge Test

The melt-blown filter layer between the outer layers is usually made of polypropylene and is treated to add electrostatic properties to the mask. This electrostatic charge aids in enhancing filtration by attracting particles. Test your mask by cutting up part of this more opaque layer into small pieces and then seeing if they stick to the mask.  If the mask has a strong charge, you will also notice the pieces of the melt-blown layer sticking to your scissors if they are made of steel.

#5: Fluid Resistance Test

Medical masks should be highly resistant to fluids. To test this add water to the outer layer of the mask, and then cut open the mask to check if any fluids permeate the outer layer. 

#6: Flame Resistance Test*

As medical masks may be employed in settings where heat or fire may be present, they should be resistant to fire and should melt slowly instead of burning like paper. Particularly the melt-blown layer should only melt when heat is used on it.

*Please take all fire safety precautions and use your best judgment if you choose to perform this test.

#7: Candle Blowing Test*

When wearing a high-quality medical mask, you should not be able to blow out a flame. If your mask is low quality, it will be much easier to blow out a candle. 

*Please take all fire safety precautions and use your best judgment if you choose to perform this test.

Now you know.

Armed with these 7 easy tests, you’re ready to find out if your current masks are top of class or dunces. Happy testing, and leave us a comment below on how your masks did when put to the grind. If you would like to learn more about Integrum medical masks please click here.

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The Integrum Blogger

The Integrum Blogger

Your Ultimate Source For Tips, News, & Updates on Safety Supplies, Dental, & Medical Industries.

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